Large-scale solar power projects continue to face land acquisition challenges and other bureaucratic hurdles even as the government is looking to attract investments in this sector.

The industry is asking for faster decision-making for making land available and simplifying government approvals to attract investments in power projects.

Recently, the Centre approved the setting up of Project Development Cells (PDCs) which will be headed by Amitesh Kumar Sinha, Joint Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).

The primary objective of setting up PDCs is to quicken the process of investment and project development in the country in order to boost the economy and meet India’s increasing power requirements.

On the ground are myriad issues faced by investors and power developers. “Acquisition of contiguous land parcel for a large-scale solar project is still a big challenge for most project developers,” said Deepak Thakur, CEO of Sterling and Wilson Hybrid Energy Storage (HES). Sterling and Wilson is a part of EPC major Shapoorji Pallonji. Contiguous property means two or more parcels of land with a common boundary.

Further there is delay in approvals, which is another hurdle. “Large projects take time to get commissioned and delays add to the complexity in terms of execution time,” said the CEO of a renewables business based in Mumbai. Another problem that the industry faces is the availability of an evacuation line, with a sub-station transformer, to evacuate the power generated from a renewable energy resource, according to Thakur.

Muted participation

In February, Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) had floated an invitation for bids to construct power evacuation bays and transmission lines for 300 MW of solar projects in Maharashtra. This saw muted participation as the bidders had reservations over several issues.

Power is a concurrent subject and industry watchers opine that potential investors as well as developers continue to find it challenging to work with various government departments to obtain clearances.

“Consequently, there is a delay in decision-making which delays projects,” said Thakur.

He advocated a dedicated portal which can act as a source of information. “An investor should be able to check status on the proposal, issue resolutions, and other matters,” stated Thakur.

This has to be complemented with accessibility of the empowered entity to address any bottlenecks or expedite decisions, as best possible, with relevant stakeholders, he added.

India has set a target of 175 GW through renewable energy sources by 2022.