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Renew | March 2014

Another milestone in K taka solar plans

Jindal Aluminium Limited (JAL), India´s leading manufacturer of aluminium extruded profiles, commissioned the company´s first photovoltaic grid connected solar power generation plant at Chitradurga, Karnataka, in October 2013. This is now the largest grid-connected solar plant in the state. With only 14 MW installed before this 10 MW plant, Karnataka has a lot of catching up to do in grid-connected solar. The Chitradurga plant is the latest example of solar´s increasing foray into grid-connected renewable energy generation. Once considered a small-ticket project, solar power has made inroads around the country, and the Jindal plant is a reflection of the nation´s faith in the cost-effectiveness of solar.

JAL, which advocates the use of clean energy, already has a strong presence in renewable energy through its 12.04 MW wind power project, situated at Chitradurga, 200 km from Bangalore. It has made itself self sufficient in terms of power and contributes the excess electricity produced to the state grid. Now, JAL has adopted solar energy since it has emerged as the most important source of renewable energy. This way it could also contribute in reducing the huge deficit of power in the country.

According to a report by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), the country faced a huge power deficit of over 12,000 MW during peak hours in the last financial year. As of April 2013, the energy deficit for the southern region was 18.1 per cent compared to a national average of 8.3 per cent, and in Karnataka the deficit was a high 17.8 per cent. The energy of the sun is the best way forward to address this issue and simultaneously support the Karnataka Renewable Energy Policy which has a target installation of 126 MWp solar power by 2013-14.

The plant: Tata Power Solar (TPS) was awarded the project to install a 10 MW solar power plant under the Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) mechanism. The grid connected solar PV plant is built on 51 acres of non agricultural land in Kalamarahalli, Chitradurga. The ground mounted solar PV array collects solar radiation through 48,000 crystalline solar panels and converts the power for commercial energy use with a grid interactive inverter. The energy generated by the system is being sold to KERC (Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission) to help meet community energy needs. It produces over 18,000 MWh (over 1 crore units) per year, which is enough energy to supply over 70,000 Indian homes. It will also displace over 14,000 tonnes of CO2 every year from the atmosphere for the next 25 years of operation.

With commendable workmanship and safety record, the solar plant for JAL was executed by TPS in a swift timeframe of four months from the day the land was made available.

Challenges
The land identified for the plant had several rocky patches and undulations along with multiple water bodies. The project execution team undertook the landscaping task and adopted a special anchor type foundation method more suited to the soil condition. After levelling, the structure was erected at an optimum tilt, facing south at an adjustable angle of 10¦-40¦, allowing maximum production on the ground mounted system.

About 16,000 foundations were laid within two months to support the structural framework of 2,000 mounts. These mounts are designed to withstand high wind speed by drilling and grouting each structure at eight points, and encasing the structural grouts in 1,000 cu m of concrete.

Highlights
Although the land was not being used for agricultural purpose, it hosted an 18 acre water reservoir. With appropriate planning, TPS ensured that the water channel was not disrupted during the ground mounting process, to help maintain an ecological balance. This project helped generate employment for the local people in functions like construction, operations and maintenance.

This is the first and largest EPC project in Karnataka and JAL Solar Power plant represents a valuable contribution to Karnataka´s efforts to meet its objective under the Karnataka Solar Policy 2011-16.

Domestic Push A Masterstroke
The Indian solar sector has benefitted to a great extent from concerted government initiatives, particularly the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) which is one of the most progressive and forward looking policies in the world. The phase II of JNNSM has stipulated that 50 per cent of the projects (375 MW) will now be built with domestically manufactured cells and modules. Provisions such as Domestic Content Requirement (DCR) in state policies and future national policies will lift the morale of the local manufacturers in India as well as make this business viable in the long term. The policy also proposed a viability gap funding (VGF) model in order to support infrastructure projects through capital grants and incentives which will help make the projects commercially viable. This public-private partnership (PPP) framework will make solar projects interesting for private players by offering high capital upfront.

Additionally, we would like to encourage the Indian government to have more plans and polices in favour of domestic solar manufacturers and recommend extended budgetary backing to assure better funding of solar power projects during the upcoming phases of implementation.

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