This is clearly a solar power solution with a difference.

If what Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) has attempted is anything to go by, this distributed/de-centralised solar power unit model in Maharashtra could well be replicated in other States with huge agriculture load, estimated to be taking up about ₹65,000 crore in subsidy.

Apart from being a distributed solar project initiative, it is aimed at supporting agriculture loads with a flat tariff of ₹3 per unit, over the next 20-25 years.

Set up in the vacant land offered by the power substation sites, there is no transmission and distribution (T&D) loss as the end consumers are located close by and the Discoms too gain as they get power at a cheaper price if the overall cost to supply the end consumer is taken into account.

“Thus far we have set up about 35 MW and within days (before August 15) we will achieve 100 MW capacity which we managed to do so within months of initiating the plan. Our target is to increase this to 500 MW by next year and possibly have a 2 giga watt (2,000 MW) within couple of a years,” said Saurabh Kumar, Managing Director of EESL.

EESL, a State-owned energy service company, was floated through a joint venture of power PSUs, NTPC, Power Finance Corporation, Rural Electrification Corporation and PowerGrid.

“Our services are based on identifying a problem and coming out with innovative solutions. And the grid-connected de-centralised solar power generation model is something which we initiated as a pilot with the Maharashtra government, where there is a huge demand for power from the agriculture sector,” he said.

Even though the solar power tariff is contracted at, say, ₹2.44 per kwh, if the levellised tariff over the years and transmission cost are taken into account, this goes up. And for Discoms, the supply to the end farmer works out to ₹5-7 a kwh.

These solar units are set up on vacant land offered by the State utility at the power sub-stations.

No T&D loss

The power thus generated is supplied at ₹3 a unit. In doing so, it is ensured there is no T&D loss, the Discom gets committed power at the daytime for supply to the agriculture pump sets, and EESL offers services as an ESCO.

“By March 2020, we expect to achieve a capacity of 500 MW and plan to take this up to 2 Giga Watt in a couple of years as we offer similar services to other States, where there is huge demand for power from the agriculture pump-sets, We are able to set up .5 MW to 2 MW at these locations, ideal for management too,” he explained.

“There are at least 10-12 States with huge power demand from the agriculture sector and we have the capability to offer them similar solutions. These States include Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu,” he said.