India’s largest state, in terms of power consumption, is set to float its first major solar power tender this year.
Despite its huge appetite for electricity, the state of Maharashtra has lagged between other Indian states to set up large-scale solar power projects under its state policy. The state has seen some auctions under the central government’s policy.
The state’s generation utility owns 300 megawatts of solar power capacity, while an additional 700 megawatts of capacity is also operational in the state. It is unclear if the 550 megawatts of solar power pumps are also included in this tally.
Maharashtra is possibly looking at solar power due to the sharp decline in cost and various incentives being offered by the central government. The cost of power has long been a politically contentious issue in Maharashtra. With solar power available at less than ₹3.00/kWh (¢4.7/kWh), state utilities will be able to make substantial savings when compared to procuring thermal power.
The Solar Energy Corporation of India recently auctioned 750 megawatts of capacity in Rajasthan on behalf of Uttar Pradesh. Indian Railways is also planning to procure electricity from a 1,050 megawatt solar power park in Madhya Pradesh.
The central government has already mandated state governments to procure a set minimum percentage of solar power, but the prospect has become attractive only now due to increased competition and exemption from payment of transmission charges.
The Maharashtra government is reportedly also planning to launch a tender to set up 1,000 megawatts of floating solar power capacity at a reservoir.