Parliamentary Panel Flags Slow Progress Of Solar Parks And Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects
The Committee, in its report, highlighted that there had been "no increase in the number of fully developed solar parks since 2020, and therefore, 42 solar parks are yet to be fully developed when the original deadline of December 2022 is knocking at the door”.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Energy has expressed disappointment at the slow progress of the development of solar parks in the country and shortfall in the overall target.
The committee headed by Janata Dal (United) MP Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh, made these observations in its twenty-eighth Report on action-taken by the government on observations/recommendations contained in Seventeenth Report (Seventeenth Lok Sabha) on the subject ‘Action Plan for Achievement of 175 GW Renewable Energy Target’.
The Scheme for 'Development of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects' was rolled out on 12 December 2014 with aggregate capacity of 20,000 MW. Further, the capacity of this Scheme was enhanced from 20,000 MW to 40,000 MW on 21 March 2017.
Solar Park is a large chunk of land developed with all necessary infrastructures and clearances for setting up of solar projects.
The capacity of the solar parks is generally 500 MW and above. However, smaller parks (up to 20 MW) are also considered in states/UTs where there is shortage of non-agricultural land. Approximately 4 to 5 acres per MW of land is required for setting up of solar parks.
The Committee in its report noted that there is a target to install 40 GW of Solar Power by setting up over 50 solar parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects by 2022.
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) in its action-taken reply before the Committee stated that it has granted approval for 50 solar parks of aggregate capacity of 33.80 GW as on 31 December 2021. “Of this, only eight parks have been completed with commissioned capacity of 6,580 MW and six parks are partially complete with projects of 2,615 MW installed,” it stated.
The Committee expressed dismay at the fact that although the Ministry has granted approvals for 50 solar parks with aggregate capacity of 33.80 GW, but it is less than the target of 40 GW by 6.20 GW. “The Ministry has not given any explanation regarding reduction in target at the level of approval itself,” it stated.
Further, the report highlighted that there has been “no increase in the number of fully developed solar parks since 2020 and therefore, 42 solar parks are yet to be fully developed when the original deadline of December 2022, is knocking at the door”.
Making a shift in the original deadline of 2022, the Ministry in its reply said that it is making concerted efforts to achieve the target of completion of solar parks of aggregate capacity 40 GW by 2023-24.
Utilisation of Surplus Land
Keeping in view the fact that the solar power projects are land intensive projects, which require large flat tracts of shadow free contiguous land with accessibility, the Committee had specifically recommend that the Ministry should actively explore the option of using surplus land available with various public sector undertaking (PSUs) and different state governments for setting up of solar parks expeditiously.
The Committee had also suggested that the Ministry should encourage all the airports in a time bound manner, to set up solar projects on the lines of Kochi Airport which is the first fully solar-powered airport in the world. However, the Ministry has not responded to these suggestions.
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