More Indian states are switching to solar power from thermal power due to the cost benefits available with the former.
Now, the northern state of Punjab is considering setting up a huge solar power project at the land where currently a 460 megawatt coal-based power plant stands. The power plant, spread over an area of 2,000 acres, is set to be retired on the first of January 2018.
The state government plans to sell off 1,400 acres of this land for infrastructure development, while the balance of 600 acres could be used to set up a solar power project. An estimated 240 megawatts of capacity could be installed at the available area.
In addition to this 460 megawatt thermal power project, 420 megawatt capacity at another thermal power plant will be shutdown. These projects are being retired due to the high generation cost. The state’s power utility switched on the 460 megawatt power plant only for 15 days in 2017. The state has been able to procure electricity at up to 44% discount from other sources, forcing the state power utility to take the call to shut down the power plants.
India’s current lowest solar power tariff is competitive to the price of electricity from these other sources and thus it make sense for the state utility to consider a solar power project at the soon-to-be-retired thermal power plant.
The state government is also considering setting up a 3,000 megawatt super-critical thermal power plant. While the power plant will have significantly greater emissions compared to the solar power plant, it will have considerably fewer emissions compared to the thermal power capacity being retired.