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Rajasthan set to get largest solar plant in world

JAIPUR: After the Rs 37,000 crore crude oil refinery in Barmer, Rajasthan is set to get the largest single-location solar plant in the world with an investment of Rs 30,000 crore and the announcement of the mega project most likely to come this month.

While top government officials are unwilling to flesh out details and are quietly preparing the pitch for poll-bound chief minister to unveil the project in grand style before the election code of conduct becomes effective, a source in the CMO said five central public sectors enterprises have formed a consortium to implement the venture. 

The project will be anchored by Jaipur-based 
CPSE Hindustan Salt Ltdthrough its subsidiary Sambhar Salt Ltd with BHEL, Solar EnergyCorporation of India, Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam and Power Grid Corporation of India being the other equity holders. 

The 4,000 MW solar plant will be set up near Sambhar lake, about 70 km from Jaipur, where Hindustan Salt has 57,000 acres of land in its possession. But the source said modalities are being worked out and some clearances are being sought to develop 1,000 MW in first phase which will require investments of Rs 7,500 crore spread over 5,000 acre area. 

"The shareholding pattern of the project has more or less been finalized and all the CPSEs in the consortium would have equity holdings. The project is expected to be operational in three years," said the source. 

Confirming the development, a source in the Rajasthan Renewable Energy Corporation said all the loose-ends of the project are being tied up to announce the big-ticket event soon. There was a meeting on Tuesday where the state's chief secretary CK Mathew sought to put in place all modalities, he added. But when TOI spoke to Mathew, he said this is a central project and they would decide on the timing of the announcement. 

The source at RREC said unlike the refinery which will see massive government funding leaving many uncertainties in the air, the solar plant will face no such challenges as the companies in the consortium are not only cash-rich but have a proven track record in implanting projects. He said one of major advantages for the project is that land is already available. 

The macro trends in the solar industry will also work as a tailwind for the project in achieving financial feasibility. 

"The prices of solar panels have significantly come down in last four years. Companies which offered to sell solar power at Rs 17 per unit in 2010 are now willing to supply at Rs 6.5/ unit. At this tariff, solar power will be cheaper for commercial customers who pay Rs 8-10/ per unit for conventional energy. So, developers will have financial feasibility," added the RREC source. 

Sunny facts 

A consortium of CPSEs driven by Hindustan Salt to put up 4000 MW solar plant near Sambhar lake at the cost of Rs 30,000cr 

In the first phase, 1,000 MW will be developed, which will require Rs 7,500cr capital investment 

Along with Hindustan Salt, BHEL, Solar Energy Corporation, Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam and Power Grid will have equity holding in the venture 

5000 acre of land is required for 1000 MW and Hindustan Salt has already has land in its possession. It has a total of 57,000 acre of land. 

Since the cost of developing solar power has crashed, the project is likely to be financially feasible

The Times of India (18-09-2013)