We have so far commissioned around 2,050 Megawatt (Mw) capacity under our solar park scheme and we further aim to expand it to 4,000 Mw by the end of 2020.
Andhra Pradesh has so far commissioned around 2,050 Megawatt (Mw) capacity under its solar park scheme and the government further aims to expand it to 4,000 Mw by the end of 2020. In an exclusive interaction with Ankush Kumar, G Adiseshu, CEO, Andhra Pradesh Solar Power Corp and advisor APGENCO talks about his plans for solar capacity expansion till 2020 and how the state has been able to keep the AT&C losses below the double digit.
What is the status of solar parks in Andhra Pradesh and how much capacity do you plan to add in the next two years?
We have so far commissioned around 2,050 Megawatt (Mw) capacity under our solar park scheme and we further aim to expand it to 4,000 Mw by the end of 2020. This year, we are trying to commission 1,000 Mw including 250 Mw at the end of this month, another 750 Mw by July. Also by March next year, we will add 750 Mw solar capacity and another 250 Mw in the mid of 2020. Therefore, we would be able to commission more than 4,000 Mw by the end of 2020.
Are you developing any new solar parks also?
At present, we are working on building capacities in our existing solar parks. However, MNRE has recently come up with a new policy for the development of new solar parks which is yet to be implemented. Under the new policy, the government is evaluating how much capacity in each state can be commissioned and what are the evacuation capacity required, etc.
What do you think are the funding related challenges for solar parks? What are the potential risks for solar developers?
We first identify the land for a solar park, estimate our cost and then declare it in the tender itself. Then the amount has to be paid by the developer. This is working out roughly at around Rs 40-45 lakhs per Mw depending on the cost of the land and local conditions. We also indicate the land lease and operation and maintenance cost. Based on these costs the developers have to quote. So, in a solar park, we are ensuring the availability of land, infrastructure and are also facilitating internal evacuation. Payment is also secured by Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) or NTPC. From the central government, we are already getting Central Financial Assistance which is Rs 12 lakh per MW for developing a solar park and Rs 8 lakh per Mw for external evacuation. There is practically no risk for the developer and all the risks are taken care of by the government.
Availability of land is one of the biggest issues for establishing solar parks. What are the steps the state government is taking to deal with that?
Our chief minister has instructed the state collectors to give the government land immediately without waiting for the formalities. Even for private land, the government is strongly negotiating the prices with the farmers. We are authorised to buy the land and get it registered so that it can be made available for projects. There is no dispute on the price as well. We do not disturb any dwelling land or cultivable one. For establishing 4,000 Mw we have acquired roughly around 26,000 acres of land. We mostly consider wasteland or the land that has shrubs.
What are the measures the government has taken to bring down the AT&C losses?
We have single-digit AT&C losses and for the last two years, we have not increased the power tariff. The government wants to reduce the cost of generation without increasing the tariffs. We are trying our best to do it. We are augmenting the transformers and ensuring that they are not overloaded and then in the AP Transco we have constructed a number of booth-stations to keep a tab on power thefts. From lower voltage, we have come to a higher voltage scenario. Earlier, we were struggling with low voltage and heavily loaded transformers which were contributing to the losses. Regular energy audit has been conducted to find out the requirement of augmenting a transformer and funds have also been made available for these changes.
Today, there are no power cuts in the state and we are supplying round-the-clock electricity. The main challenge going forward will be the management of the grid as we go on increasing renewable energy.