Land and Evacuation Is Evolving As A Threat in Growth Of Solar Parks. How Can This Be Resolved?

Mr. Rahul Gupta Managing Director Raysexperts

Ms. Tanvi Kapoor Marketing Manager Raysexperts

Government has high hopes from renewable energy and is working on the target to accomplish 100 GW of solar capacity by 2022. To accomplish these targets govt. have to resolve the major challenges such as availability of Land and transmission infrastructure which cast a big issue on India’s ambitious renewable energy plans. It is being estimated that all of the proposed solar projects would require up to 500,000 acres.
Government is taking measures to resolve the land and power evacuation issues such as MNRE has released a new scheme Mode-7 to ease land and power evacuation constraints.
Overall, the best practice to resolve these issues are:

  • Solar Projects should be jointly owned by the landowners and the project developers.
  • Encourage landowners to lease their land to project developers for installing solar plant and own an equity interest shareholder. They can receive a royalty for land rent plus a percentage of returns from the business.
  • Govt. of state and state power corporation limited shall be responsible to provide the connectivity.
  • With the help of the department of Land Resources, renewable energy zone must be defined by the government in each state. The project developers shall be given the right-of-way authorizations laying out rental payments and fees tied to electric generating capacity.
  • India has over 63 million hectares, or 20% of its total land, classified as wasteland. The state governments, can identify waste / barren land and superimpose it for setting up of solar projects.

To reduce the pressure on land, govt. should also invest in Off-grid rooftops, rooftop solar projects, for houses, office buildings, and industries. Govt. can focus on canal-top, canal -bank solar power projects and floating solar as well.

Mr. Manish Bagadia Managing Director Grace Renew

The Government of India is promoting Solar energy as an effective tool to mitigate the climate change. By march 2022, the government said, India would have 100 GW of solar capacity of which 60 GW will come from utility Grid. This ambitious target set by India can be achieved by setting up mega solar parks. Solar parks were introduced by GOI to reduce the bottlenecks associated with addition of solar capacity in the country.
The major hurdle in solar park development is the availability of land. India has the second largest agricultural land in the world and use of agricultural land for setting up solar parks is not allowed in states like Gujarat, Punjab, Uttar-Pradesh. You have to convert agricultural land into non agricultural land.

There are few states which have given liberty of using agriculture land for solar parks to add to the income of farmers. In these states, there is no need to convert these land into non agricultural land. However the conversion of land into non agricultural land becomes a very tedious procedure with many approvals and clearances required from different Government offices.

Due to this developing a solar energy project in India is still a complex process as a typical 1 MW solar system in these parks requires approximately 4-5 acres of land . Thus each solar park of 1-1.5 GW of cluster would require a huge land bank of 4000 -6000 acre. In such scenario it would be better that single window clearance be provided for all approvals. With this the government should allocate land after considering the type of technology to be implemented.

Another major barrier faced by solar developers is the lack of power evacuation infrastructure. With solar parks are majorly located in remote areas, no access to evacuation infrastructure defer the project commissioning. This delay in initial project timeline thus leads to cost over runs. Hence it is of utmost importance that the government should strengthen the evacuation infrastructure by focusing on green energy corridor project for synchronizing electricity produced from renewable sources and also guarantees the availability of grid.

Again there are multiple charge levied by Discoms such as wheeling charges, Transmission and distribution charges, CTU charges , Cross subsidy charges for injection of power into the grid. Even with all the hindrances, Solar Industry is getting momentum. I am sure with proper clarity in policies and facilities, India can lead the global solar Industry.

Mr. Sourabh Maltare Director Insolergy Technologies

In order to achieve the target of 100 GWp of solar power capacity by 2022, the government has planned to develop 40 GWp of capacity in the form of solar parks. However, it was recently reported in ET, that out of 23.5 GWp of approved solar parks, only 5.8 GWp has been commissioned so far. The major challenge cited by many developers is availability of land and power evacuation infrastructure. One megawatt (MWp) of solar plant requires around five acres of land to set up. Hence, a typical solar park of 500 MWp capacity requires around 2,500 acres of land, which ideally needs to be close and continuous for optimal utilization.

It has been argued that the Central and State Government agencies need to take lead in pooling of land and investing into setting up of evacuation infrastructure for solar parks. Realizing this challenge, MNRE has introduced new guidelines in March 2019, in which SECI will act as Solar Power Park Developer, and will facilitate the availability of land with the assistance of state government. Additionally, funds available under CFA will be utilized for developing external power evacuation infrastructure. The new guidelines also mentions setting up of payment security mechanism, which should alleviate concerns of investors regarding payment defaults by the DISCOMs.



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