Land acquisition problems dog solar power plants

State run power utility Mahagenco had planned to start work on two solar power plants in Osmanabad and Parbhani districts but they are held up due to problems related with land acquisition. Work has, however, started on a new plant in Baramati that was planned much later.

This has badly hit the company’s obligation of buying solar power. Mahagenco’s solar capacity should have been 344 MW in 2014-15 for meeting the obligation. However, it is only 155 MW at present. Another 125 MW was planned by 2013-14 but could not materialise, which is reason for the huge deficit.

Sources in Mahagenco said the company had set a target to increase its solar generation by another 500 MW by 2015-16. “The first phase of expansion of 125 MW that includes 100 MW plant in Kudgaon (district Osmanabad) and 25 MW in Gangakhed (district Parbhani) has not been completed. The land acquisition problem is being sorted out.

“In the meantime, we decided to set up a 50 MW plant in Baramati where land was readily available. Work is progressing on it. It is the first solar plant being built on public-private partnership (PPP) model with revenue sharing mechanism for 25 years. Welspun Energy is our operator for the plant,” a senior officer said.

This project will be executed in two phases. The first phase having 36 MW capacity will be set up on 74 hectares already acquired by Mahagenco. The remaining 14 MW will be installed with same terms and conditions after acquisition of balance 29.97 hectares of land.

Mahagenco’s share of the project is only the land cost. Remaining amount, which comes to 60 per cent of the project cost, will be borne by Welspun. In return, the company will get 62 per cent of the revenue. The plant load factor (PLF) will have to be 19 per cent and Welspun will have to compensate for any loss of revenue to Mahagenco due to a fall in power generation.

Mahagenco’s future solar projects including the ones at Kudgaon and Gangakhed will be executed on similar model. The company at present has four solar plants: Chandrapur - 1 MW and 4 MW, Sakri (district Dhule) - 50 MW and 100 MW.

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