Indian firms kick start solar development


Three Indian firms,



, have announced plans for solar projects that will help them meet new regulatory targets for renewable power.

Tata Power, which is India's largest non-state electricity generator, said it plans to connect a 3 megawatt photovoltaic plant to the grid in Maharashtra state later this year. The plant is under construction at Mulshi in western Maharashtra.

The company also announced tentative plans to set up solar facilities with a combined capacity of 300mw by 2013. It said it decided to implement large-scale solar development in response to new government policies promoting renewable energy.

If Tata Power implements its plan, it would deliver about 30 per cent of the total solar capacity expansion envisaged by India's government over the next three years. Much would depend, however, on the details of the government's final solar policy, said Banmali Agrawala, the company's excutive director.

In January, India launched a "

" aimed at boosting grid-connected solar capacity in the country to 1,000mw by 2013 and 20,000mw by 2022 from just 10mw currently.

To put that in perspective, the emirate of Abu Dhabi also has 10mw of installed solar capacity. The electricity comes from a single grid-connected photovoltaic array at the site of

, where it is powering the construction of the US$22 billion (Dh80.74bn) carbon-neutral community.

Mr Agrawala said Tata Power's plans included developing a 25mw photovoltaic plant in Gujarat, one of a few Indian states that have announced their own incentive programmes for boosting investment in renewable energy.

Depending on the state, India's power distribution companies are required to source as much as 14 per cent of the electricity they sell from renewable energy sources including solar, wind and hydro-power.

To help power companies meet their targets, New Delhi plans to introduce trading of renewable energy credits this year. That would give firms the option of purchasing credits to meet their obligations.

In a separate development, Indian Oil said it would invest 7bn rupees (Dh548 million) to set up solar and wind plants that, among other things, would power its more than 18,100 retail fuel outlets. The company also said it had set up a renewable energy and sustainable development division.

Indian Oil, a state-owned oil and gas company, is India's largest commercial enterprise and owns the country's largest network of fuel stations.


of Punj Lloyd, an Indian engineering and construction company, will develop a 100mw solar project in Rajasthan state, with 5mw planned for its first phase.

Tariq Alam, the chief executive of Punj Lloyd Delta Renewables, said the company was lobbying for the project to be included in the National Solar Mission.

In April, Punj Lloyd Delta won a 2.3bn rupee contract from the government of the northern state of Bihar to install 850 water treatment plants powered by solar energy. That project involves installing about 1.3mw of generating capacity.

The company is also developing solar lighting for the Commonwealth Games athletes' village in New Delhi.

Pic: The Masdar City solar array in Abu Dhabi, courtesy of Environmena