The south Indian state of Tamil Nadu has announced plans to set up a 500 megawatt solar power park. This will be the first solar power park the state government has planned under the central government’s 40 gigawatt program.
The solar park will be located at Kadaladi. The location was first scouted for a 4,000 megawatt coal-fired power plant. The planned project ran into environmental concerns, with the Ministry of Environment and Forest advising the state not to use sea water from the close by Gulf of Munnar. At least a part of the thermal power plant was to be built in a marine national park, and this was another reason to red flag the power plant.
The state government has now released funds to study the feasibility of setting up the 500 megawatt solar power park at the location. No timeline has been announced yet for auction of this capacity.
This solar park will add to the already 2,000 megawatts of operational and 1,500 megawatts of under-construction solar power capacity in the state.
While several other states have initiated the process of setting up large-scale solar parks under the central government’s scheme, Tamil Nadu has lagged in this regard. It has auctioned some solar power plants and has even signed direct agreements with developers to set up solar power projects, but through a solar power park the cost of generation comes down significantly due to shared infrastructure.
While Tamil Nadu has long been leading Indian states in installed renewable energy capacity, it has not led the way in terms of cheap tariffs. The state has had its share of problems with the transmission network which has failed to keep up the rapidly increasing wind and solar power capacity. The financial conditions of state’s power utility has also failed to instill confidence among prospective project developers taking part in tenders. As a result, the tariff bids for this solar power park are also expected to be at a substantial premium to the current lowest tariff in the country.