Planning a 15 MW canal-top project in Bengal's Burdwan district

As part of its corporate makeover agenda, the Rs 7,000-crore Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) is considering a handholding relationship with the World Bank. DVC is currently a statutory organisation jointly held by West Bengal, Jharkhand and the Union Government by virtue of the DVC Act, 1948.

Apart from its chain of barrages and dams, serving the dual purpose of flood control and canal irrigation in Damodar Valley; DVC runs nearly 5,000 MW power generation capacities (mostly thermal). Another 2000 MW capacity is under implementation. It also has a 1000 MW joint venture with Tata Power.

“World Bank has expressed an initial interest in entering a handholding relationship. The co-operation will extend right from finance to introduction of best practices and technology to make it a model institution on the lines of NTPC,” a senior DVC official told Business Line.

Initial discussions have been held. And a concrete proposal is under preparation, sources said. Talks are expected to move further once the Government gives the final go ahead to DVC’s corporatisation initiative. Meanwhile, DVC plans to seek World Bank assistance in a mega solar power foray.

Solar power

Having recently decided to set up a 15 MW canal-top solar photovoltaic project in Burdwan district of West Bengal; the Corporation is busy preparing a project plan to expand the solar capacities to 1,000 MW.

To its advantage, DVC owns a 2,500-km canal irrigation network, in West Bengal and Jharkhand. Additionally, it owns huge land assets in the form of dams, barrages and other installations in both the States.

Canal-top facility

While Gujarat has already forayed into a canal-top solar facility at Mehsana; according to S.P. Gon Chaudhury, a renewable energy expert and chairman of Prince Charles promoted Ashden India; canal-top solar may prove unviable vis-à-vis the tariff (approximately Rs 8 a unit) offered in West Bengal’s National Solar Mission (Rs 10 a unit).

Canal-top solar is rendered costlier because the high structural cost. Moreover, with DVC canals located closer to power stations, the ash deposits may impact viability.

Chaudhury, however, feels that installation of land-based photovoltaic capacities in Jharkhand (that has stronger sunshine than Bengal) may be more viable at current tariff levels.

pratim.bose@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on February 4, 2013)
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