Odisha govt identifies 1415 acres of suitable land for 400 Mw solar park

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The solar power project in Odisha has gained traction after the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) approved its staggered implementation.

Odisha was mandated to develop 1000 Mw solar park originally. But, the state government recast its project design and sought approval from the MNRE to build a truncated 400 Mw capacity in the first phase. Acquiring 5000 acres of contiguous land was seen as a key roadblock to develop 1000 Mw capacity in one go.

With the ministry approving the preliminary DPR seeking phased implementation of the solar park, the state government has kicked off its land hunt. It has identified 1415.3 acres of suitable land in Sambalpur and Boudh districts in the state’s hinterland. 

The identified land would be handed over to Green Energy Development Corporation (GEDCOL), the nodal agency for solar projects in Odisha and a subsidiary of state owned Odisha Hydro Power Corporation (OHPC). The combined capacity of solar park in Sambalpur and Boudh is pegged at 225 Mw in Phase-I.

“The proposal of the final DPR is underway and will be submitted to MNRE by March. We are in the process for identifying lands for developing the balance solar capacity”, said an official.

Odisha has also identified 600 acres of land in Jharsuguda and Deogarh districts for the balance solar capacity. The land, however, is unsuitable due to local resistance.

The development of the park assumes significance as the state government, in its newly approved Renewable Energy Policy-2016, plans to add 2,200 Mw capacity of solar energy by 2022. According to the estimates by consulting & advisory firm KPMG, this needs an investment of Rs 135 billion.

But, lower solar irradiation is denying Odisha the edge in tariff compared with other states like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Odisha receives an average solar radiation of 5.5 KWh/square meter area with an average CUF (Capacity Utilisation Factor) ranging from 15-17 per cent across the districts and around 300 clear sunny days every year. In Rajasthan, the comparable figure goes beyond 7 KWh per square meter.

Recently, hydropower generation company NHPC Ltd had proposed to set up a solar project in Odisha with capacity in the range of 100-200 Mw. It had expressed its willingness to set up the project under the 1,000 Mw solar power park scheme.

NHPC has joined the other central PSUs that have made a beeline to put up projects in the state. NTPC, NLC (formerly Neyveli Lignite Ltd) and North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Ltd (NEEPCO) and SJVN Ltd that have evinced interest in participating in the state's solar park programme.

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