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Delhi seeks to tap more solar power

By Gaurav Sharma, IANS,

New Delhi : With conventional sources of electricity likely to get scarcer and more expensive in the coming years, the Delhi government is weighing the option of generating more solar power in the near future.

“The Delhi Regulatory Energy Commission (DERC) had issued an advisory to the government for generating solar power. We will soon hold deliberations on the project and we will decide how power companies can be roped in,” an official told IANS.

The government will act as a “facilitator” for discoms to generate the green energy.

“We will have a meeting with the stakeholers. There are around 15 stakeholers which include DERC, power distribution companies and others,” the official said. The meeting is expected to take place as soon as this month.

“Tariff, metering and other aspects will have to be looked into. Giving a subsidy for power buyers will also figure in the meeting,” said the official.

According to officials, the government is keen to promote solar energy in the capital and has adopted several measures towards it.
“Delhi has no alternate source of renewable energy except solar. So whatever we have, we will have to develop,” said the official, who did not wish to be named as these issues were still under discussion.

“We have already identified 25 government schools and 10 government hospitals on the roofs of which solar power systems will be installed,” added another official. These solar systems will generate 500 KW of power.

The Delhi government is planning to light up more of its historical sites through the sun’s plentiful energy. The Qutub Minar, the Red Fort and Humayun’s Tomb – all declared Unesco World Heritage Sites – are among the six sites where the solar power plants would emplaced.

The DERC last year issued an advisory asking residents to put solar panels on roof tops for sourcing electricity. “We will discuss available land for installing the solar photovaltic panels in the capital as there is a scarcity (of land),” another official said.

Experts say with falling price of photovoltaic cells and possible grid parity, the price of solar power in the near future will be comparable to that derived from traditional fuels. Grid parity is attained when the cost of solar energy equals the cost of utility power from sources such as coal, natural gas and nuclear plants.

Audit and consultancy firm KPMG India in a recent report said prices of traditional fuels are going to increase by at least four percent over the next decade while prices of solar PV modules may fall by 5-7 percent. By fiscal 2018, the price of solar power will fall to Rs.6.22 per unit from the current Rs.8.34, while the cost of power from traditional sources will increase to Rs.5.79 per unit from the current Rs.4.20.

By fiscal 2019, the gap between traditional sources and solar power will be further narrowed to 20 paise per unit.

Due to government initiatives such as the Jawharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM), solar power generation capacity in the country has shot up to 1,000 MW from 20 MW in the last two years, the report said, identifying telecom towers and agriculture water pumps where the energy can be used.

In the summer of 2012, the capital’s daily power demand saw an unprecedented high of over 5,000 MW. However, DERC chairman P.D. Sudhakar says there is no shortfall of power in the capital. “The problem arises in procurement if there is a technical problem in the national grid or a shortage of coal supply.”

(Gaurav Sharma can be contacted at [email protected] )