The Maharashtra State Power Generation Company Ltd (Mahagenco) has floated tenders to set up separate solar feeders for the agriculture sector. It is one of the most ambitious projects of the state government. A pilot project to this effect had already been successfully set up in Sangamner Tehsil of Ahmednagar.
“We are currently tracking the status of the pilot projects, which appear to be successful. Meanwhile, tenders have been floated and the bidding process in on,” said a senior official from the solar division of Mahagenco. Currently, domestic and agricultural consumers receive electricity from the same feeders.
In some areas, subsidised electricity was available to farmers at night for agricultural activities. However, since the agriculture sector accounts for around 30 per cent of the state’s electricity usage, the solar feeders will take some load off the grid. They can provide electricity to farmers for 12 hours a day. “Separate feeders for agriculture is a commendable idea. Farming at night is difficult. Now farmers can use solar energy produced during the day,” said Ajay Mathur, Director General of The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI).
In a bid to achieve its target of generating 2,500 MW through renewable energy by 2022, Mahagenco has decided to go the public-private partnership way. The government will identify land for the installation of solar plants, said the Mahagenco official. Private players or investors will be roped in to set up plants, he added.
“We are in the process of identifying barren land to set up the plants,” he said. Under the central government’s scheme for setting up solar parks, the Mahagenco plans to set up a 500MW park in Dhule. The generation company is in the process of acquiring land for the project. “The park will be set up with assistance from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and Solar Energy Corporation of India,” said the official. The bidding process began before the commencement of the election season.