The first privately operated, utility scale, solar power plant in India was today inaugurated by Dr. Farooq Abdulla, Honorable Union Minister of New and Renewable Energy, Govt of India in Awan(Punjab). The 2 megawatt (1MW commissioned) photovoltaic (PV) project that is Built, Owned and Operated (BOO) by Azure Power, a US owned Independent Power Producer (IPP), is the first privately operated MW scale solar power plant in India. Shree S. Sukhbir Singh Badal, Deputy Chief Minister, Punjab the Chief Guest of Honour, Shree Sh. Vishwajeet Khanna, Secretary, STE&NCES and Mr. Inderpreet Wadhwa, CEO, Azure Power were also present on the occasion.
Speaking on this occasion Dr. Farooq Abdulla, Honorable Union Minister of New and Renewable Energy, Govt of India began by referring to the fact that even as we accepted all the other Gods that rule our mind, today, the ancient man worshiped the Sun. In an ironic shift, we are turning to Sun as a source of energy today and in an effort to save the world from harmful emissions. He identified solar power as the key driver in nation’s effort to electrify all the villages in the country. Dr. Abdullah also expressed that by turning to renewable energy resources like Sun will help in keeping the Import Bill down and save up for the countries development. The target under National Solar Mission is 20,000 MW by year 2022 with a short term target of 1300 MW in the next three years. Dr. Abdullah promised the Union Government’s support in all Solar Poer Plant Projects in the country.
Located in the village of Awan in Punjab’s Amritsar district, approximately 40 kilometers from Amritsar, the solar PV field will provide electricity to approximately 42 villages around Awan, under a 30-year power purchase agreement with Punjab State Electricity Board. This is part of the Pioneering efforts of the Government of Punjab in promoting solar power generation through private participation. The plant will help power 4,000 rural homes, totaling 20,000 people, while eliminating as much carbon dioxide pollution as 535,000 trees do annually. The project is facilitated & supported by PEDA (Punjab Energy Development Agency) & MNRE (Ministry Of New And Renewable Energy), Govt. of India. With the launch of this project, the PEDA has taken a major leap forward in its endeavor to put up Solar Photovoltaic (SPV) Power Projects in the MW scale in the state.
On the occasion of inaugurating the 40 Crore investment Solar Power Plant by Azure Power, Shree. S. Sukhbir Singh Badal, Deputy Chief Minister, Punjab invited entrepreneurs inside and outside Punjab to set up Solar Power Plants in the state. He mentioned the fact that close to 300 MW of power capacity has come up in Punjab in the last few years just through small scale power plants and he expects another 200 MW to be added from a few more small projects in the coming years.
Azure Power is India’s first Independent Power Producer in the space of Solar Power. They Build, Own and Operate (BOO) power plants for utilities and commercial establishments. This particular power plant at Awan, Amritsar has been constructed by Azure in a record time of six months.
The project exploits the solar passive concept, whereby natural ventilation, passive cooling and daylight are optimally utilized. Power from the plant is transmitted directly to a substation in the local community, thereby nullifying Transmission and Distribution losses . A total investment of Rs. 19 Crore has gone into commissioning the 1 MW output. The U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) provided loan to finance the project.
Addressing the media Mr. Inderpreet Wadhwa, CEO, Azure Power said, “We identified distributed medium scale solar power generation as key to energy efficient economic development almost five years ago ahead of national initiatives and international investment in MW-scale solar power generation in India. We took on the task to prove the model of distributed solar power generation at the tail end to enhance the grid as well as the livelihood of communities in rural India. Azure is glad to partner with the visionary Punjab State Government for our very first project. India needs 500 MW of power generation per week for the next 25 years to maintain GDP growth of 8% p.a. We see solar power to be a significant contributor to India’s renewable power generation in the coming years. More specifically, Solar Power is ideally positioned to address the severe power shortage in rural India. It is our mission to play a leading role in the electrification of rural India and we are confident that Solar Power can do the job.”
In addition to Punjab, Azure Power has already inked agreements with Governments of Gujarat and Haryana to the tune of 22 MWs and they are also in talks with State Governments in Karnataka, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Rajasthan for another 30 MWs. Azure Power is targeting 100 MW of solar power by 2013.