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Free fall: Guj now 6th in solar power

The state has fallen behind Telangana, Raj, Andhra, TN, and K’taka

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Free fall: Guj now 6th in solar power
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Gujarat, the pioneer of solar power in the country, has fallen behind other states in tapping solar energy. Rapid capacity addition by other states has led the prime minister’s home state to fall to the sixth position in solar power capacity.

As of September 2017, Gujarat was home to commissioned solar power capacity of 1,384MW, less than half of top-ranked Telangana, where the capacity was 2,792 MW, India Solar Map 2017, a report by Bridge to India, said.

Rajasthan, also one of the early states to tap solar power potential, is ranked second with 2,219MW, followed by Andhra Pradesh with 2,153MW. Two other southern states, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, have also overtaken Gujarat in solar power in recent months. Tamil Nadu is ranked fourth, with 1,804 MW capacity, while Karnataka is fifth, with 1,649MW.

Gujarat was ranked third in commissioned solar power capacity as of October last year, only behind Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu. However, other states have made significant addition to solar power capacity to overtake Gujarat. While Gujarat added just 250MW capacity since then, Rajasthan has added over 900 MW and Tamil Nadu over 300MW.

“The Gujarat government is not keen on adding solar power capacity as the state already has surplus power. Moreover, states like Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu are giving land at subsidised rates for setting up solar power plants, while Gujarat charges market rate. Hence, it is natural that developers are opting for other states for setting up solar projects,” energy expert KK Bajaj told DNA.  Bajaj said that state power utility Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Limited already has power purchase agreements with solar power producers and existing capacity is enough to meet Solar RPO (Renewable Purchase Obligation).

Gujarat’s power minister Chiman Sapariya could not be reached for a comment despite several attempts.  A senior government official admitted that the state is going slow on solar power, but claimed that proposals to set up Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects – projects of 500 MW and above – are under consideration.  What is more is that Gujarat is likely to fall further behind the other states, many of which have huge solar capacities in the pipeline, compared with Gujarat which has hardly any project coming up.

According to the report, more than 2,400MW solar power capacity is in the pipeline in Karnataka, the highest among all states, followed by Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, with 1,600MW and 1,500MW, respectively. Fresh capacity of 700-950MW is also under development in Telangana, MP and Rajasthan.  At over Rs13 per unit, solar power in Gujarat is the costliest in the country, though tariffs have fallen of late. However, having signed power purchase agreements with developers under its Solar Power Policy, 2009, the state will have to continue buying expensive power for 25 years.

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