The Union Cabinet has approved the scheme for setting up 25 solar parks each with a capacity of 500 MW and above and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects in various parts of the country where large chunks of land can be spared for this purpose.
These parks will be able to accommodate over 20,000 MW of solar power projects. The Solar Parks or Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects will be set up during five years, from 2014-15 to 2018-19 and will require Central Government financial support of Rs.4050 crore. Smaller parks in Himalayan and other hilly States where contiguous land may be difficult to acquire in view of the difficult terrain, will also be considered.
The parks will be developed in collaboration with State Governments and their agencies. The choice of implementing agency for developing and maintaining the park is left to the State Government. The States, applying under the scheme, will have to designate an agency for the development of the solar park.
The State Government will first nominate the implementing agency for the solar park and also identify the land for the proposed solar park. It will then send a proposal to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) for approval along with the name of the implementing agency. The implementing agency may be sanctioned a grant of upto Rs.25 Lakh for preparing a Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the Solar Park, conducting surveys, etc. However, the DPR must be prepared in 60 days.
Thereafter, application may be made by the implementing agency to SECI for the grant of up to Rs. 20 lakhs/MW or 30 percent of the project cost including Grid-connectivity cost, whichever is lower. The approved grant will be released by Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) as per milestones prescribed in the scheme.
All the States and Union Territories are eligible for benefitting under the scheme. Solar parks will enable development of solar power in remote areas where land is inexpensive.
As the transmission system will be developed for the entire park, developers will not have to set up their own transmission lines. This will not only save money but will also avoid damaging the landscape of the area as only limited transmission lines would be laid.
It may be recalled that the Finance Minister, while presenting the 2014-15 Budget , had amongst other things announced that the new and renewable energy deserves a very high priority and proposed to take up Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, and Laddakh in Jammu & Kashmir for which he had set aside a sum of Rs. 500 crore in the Budget.
The scheme for development of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Soiar Power Projects has been conceived on the lines of the "Charanka Solar Park" in Gujarat which is a first-of-its-kind large scale Solar Park in India with contiguous developed land and transmission connectivity.