The Karnata State, through the Karnataka Power Corporation Limited (KPCL), is readying to establish 10 solar power plants at Shimoga, Kaginele, Mandya, Bijapur, Haveri, Mysore and Tumkur, under the Jawaharlal Nehru Solar Mission (JNNSM). In fact, the state is set to become the country’s solar power hub – it has in the pipeline 10 solar power projects with a total capacity of 100 MW, operated on the basis of public-private-partnership.
India’s first-ever 3 Mw solar photovoltaic power plant was erected by the Karnataka Power Corporation Limited (KPCL), the state-owned power generating company. It was been set up at a cost of Rs 59.5 crore.
This is the biggest solar power plant in the country today. The previous claimant to the honour was set up in West Bengal, which had only a 1 Mw capacity. The 3 Mw solar photo voltaic plant set up in Kolar district provides energy to 500 pumpsets of 10 HP each – it will benefit about 1,000 farmers.
Inaugurating the plant, Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah said, the government was planning to add 1,000 Mw of solar energy to the grid in the next 3 years as part of the Jawaharlal Nehru NSM. “Karnataka is a pioneer in using solar energy and the state should take steps to install solar-powered LED lamps for lighting the streets,” he said. Abdullah also suggested that the Karnataka government install solar water heaters in all hospitals, government offices, hostels and other institutions.
The unique feature of the KPCL plant is that the power would be available to farmers during the day for their agricultural operations. Showcasing the good effects oif higher economy of scale, the plant has already generated 3 million units in six months it has been in operation – as against the annual expected generation of 4 million units.
The KPCL has also set up similar 3 Mw solar photo voltaic plants in Belgaum and Raichur districts. While the plant in Belgaum is already operational, the Raichur unit is close to completion. In the second phase, the KPCL is planning to set up 100 Mw of solar energy plants as joint ventures with the private sector.
The plan for KPCL is to “take care of land and other technical aspects, including providing consultancy”, while private developers would be invited to develop the plant. KPCL and MNRE have also set up a national solar energy training centre in Bangalore, a center for which the MNRE has provided Rs. 3.5 crore. This centre, which trains engineers in technical aspects of solar plants, was inaugurated by Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah on June 17, he added.