Impact on prices consumer pay will be minimal, officials aver

Almost 180 megawatts of electricity you buy is now coming from solar energy sources. Of this, almost 148 megawatts were added to the country's energy mix in the last one year alone, with no additional burden on the consumer's pocket.

Though power produced from solar energy sources is more expensive than conventional thermal sources, consumers need not worry. “The impact on the end price of electricity will be minimal, may be a paise or so,” a senior official from the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy said.

The average cost of electricity at the consumer end today is in the range Rs 4.5/ unit. On how the pricing works, the official said, according to the prescribed guidelines every megawatt of solar power is bundled with four units of power produced from conventional sources.

For example, the tariff fixed by the regulatory commission for solar photovoltaic is Rs 15.31/ unit. The developer sells to NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam (NVVN) at a discounted rate of about Rs 8/ unit. The distribution companies then will source power at this subsidised rate as they are compensated by the Government in the form of equal amount of conventional power, the official added.

Of the total 180,000 megawatt (excluding captive power) capacity from all sources of energy, solar accounted for 183.5 megawatt in just one year. These 183.5 megawatts of solar projects commissioned have been from various programmes — from States (102 megawatts) and Central (81.5 megawatts).

Gujarat is leading with 91-megawatt capacity, followed by Rajasthan 43.5 megawatt. The Ministry had set a target of 200-megawatt capacity for 2012, which seems to be easily attainable, the official said.

Bundled power

Meanwhile, NVVN, the trading arm of NTPC, has commenced bundled power supply — combining energy produced from solar photovoltaic with those produced from conventional thermal sources. NVVN has been the nodal agency to source power for the projects under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission.

Dr Farooq Abdullah, Minister of New and Renewable Energy, elaborating upon the achievements under the National Solar Mission, had said that the project selection of 800-megawatt through tariff discounting bidding has substantially helped in reducing the tariff.

He added that his Ministry has also initiated the process of selection of another 350 megawatt in Batch-II during 2011-12. The results of bidding of this batch have just come and further reduction in average tariff of solar power to Rs 8.77/ unit has been offered.

The Minister said by March, about 400 megawatt capacity projects will be commissioned in the country.

richam@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on December 13, 2011)
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