Gujarat – The Green City of Narendra Modi
The true test of success of a strategy is when your rivals start copying it. Using this benchmark Narendra Modi has succeeded fabulously his solar energy policy promotion in Gujarat. The state has installed almost 60% of the country’s solar capacity despite the federal solar subsidy policy being of a much larger scale and much more hyped. Note success in solar energy is not an isolated case as Gujarat has grown tremendously on all fronts in the last few years. Industrialists from around the country are immigrating to Gujarat as red tape and political shenanigans in other states make operating there impossible.
Gujarat also managed to jumpstart the largest solar park in the country and managed to get investments in billions of dollars. Solar Panels are being promoted in off grid applications like solar lights as well in numerous parts of the state. The 1 MW solar power plant on the Narmada canal has been one of the most innovative uses of solar power in the country till now.
Not only has a large number of solar panel farms have mushroomed in Gujarat, but some innovative solar projects have been commissioned as well. A 1 MW solar energy installation on the Narmada Canal put up by US Solar Panel installer SunEdision has proved to be a success as well. This solar power project not only generates energy but also reduces evaporation of water from the canal. Another added benefit is that it does not use any scarce land and makes use of the existing water body which was not being utilized anyway. The rapid rise in solar energy in Gujarat has led to copying by other states. Even Congress leaders who are staunch rivals of Modi are sending teams to study solar energy growth in Gujarat. Solar Energy parks are being planned in Karnataka following the design of Charnaka solar park while Rajasthan plans to copy the Narmada solar power project at Barmer.
Like senior leaders of his Congress party, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot never missed any occasion to vehemently criticise Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his Government. But when it comes to development of the State, Gehlot is not shy of following the Gujarat model of Modi.
According to sources, the Government has asked the ONGC to carry out the survey of the canal, where solar panels could be installed. ONGC is carrying out the survey in Jaisalmer area, which is close to Barmer, where crude oil was found. ONGC could be given the task to produce solar energy, which it could use for its installations in Barmer. It could also sell the power to the State Government.
The Government is hoping that if ONGC starts producing solar energy from Indira Gandhi Canal, private investors would not lag behind in exploiting the canal for generating solar power, which is far cheaper than thermal and hydrological power.
An innovative solar power project in Gujarat has started generating 1 mw of power, that is 1.6 million units of electricity per year, enough to meet the domestic power requirement of 16,000 families. The project, mooted six months ago by the state power department, was operationalised on March 28 and will be inaugurated on April 24. In a first, solar panels were placed on a .75 km stretch of a canal of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam (ssnn) near Ahmedabad, thus saving land costs as well as preventing water evaporation.
The government is also planning to insert micro turbines into the steel structure of solar panels to produce low-intensity hydropower. The state is already the leading solar power producer in the country. Solar parks in Gujarat have been generating 600 mw since March. This is twice the solar power generated in the rest of the country. One particular plant at Charanka village in north Gujarat produces 214 mw-the largest single park in Asia to do so. This solar energy prevents eight million tonnes of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere; it also represents 9,00,000 tonnes of coal and natural gas saved annually. By 2022, the state plans to produce 10,000 mw of solar energy.
Says D.J. Pandian, state energy secretary, who oversaw the execution of the project, “When Chief Minister Narendra Modi mooted the idea in 2011, many thought it was difficult to execute. But we took the risk and today it is a reality. Solar plants require large tracts of land for installation as well as water for maintenance. This project requires none and also saves money by preventing evaporation of the dam water.” S. Jagadeesan, managing director, ssnn, says the project has greater potential: “Solar power generation is possible on 3,500 km of the Narmada dam’s 7,600-km-long branch canal network.”
The project, implemented in collaboration with US firm SunEdison, cost Rs.17 crore, which is higher than the cost of Rs.10 crore required for a regular solar project. Pandian says this being their first attempt, they ended up spending Rs.5 crore more over the projected cost. He assures further research will bring down the costs and there would be no cost overruns next time. “If the micro turbine experiment succeeds, we might be able to bring it down to a level lower than the cost of a regular solar project,” he says.
Also Read on GWI:
- Solar Shingles Pricing, Cost, Manufacturers (Dow Powerhouse, Sharp, Uni Solar, Sunpower), Solar Shingles vs Solar Panels