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Tamil Nadu targets 3,000 MW of solar power

Tamil Nadu has set a target of generating 3,000 MW of solar power by 2015, according to its Solar Energy Policy 2012 recently unveiled by Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa. With average solar incidence of 5.5-6 kWh/m2 /day, Tamil Nadu is amongst the states with the highest solar insolation in the country. The southern part of the state is considered to be the most suitable for development of solar power projects.

As per the released Solar Energy Policy, the target of generating 3,000 MW of solar power is going to be reached in three phases over a period of three years. From 2013 onwards, the state would promote setting up of solar power projects with capacity of 1,000 MW in each phase.

The Solar Energy Policy outlines various measures to be initiated with a view to boost the solar power sector in the state. The state government would mandate Solar Purchase Obligation, to be administered by TANGEDCO, of 3 per cent till December 2013 and then 6 per cent from January 2014 for special economic zones, industries guaranteed with 24/7 power supply, IT parks, telecom towers, colleges, and residential schools and buildings with a builtup area of 20,000 sq. metres or more.

Such consumers may either generate captive solar power in the state equivalent to or more than their SPO or buy equivalent to or more than their SPO from other third-party developers of solar power projects in the state or buy Renewable Energy Certificates generated by solar power projects in the state equivalent to or more than their SPO or purchase power from TANGEDCO at solar tariff.

Those wanting to avail of SPO exemption through captive solar generation would need to install separate meters for measuring captive generation. Categories of consumers exempted from SPO include domestic consumers, huts, cottage and tiny industries, power looms, low tension industrial consumers and agricultural consumers.

The generation of 3,000 MW of solar power, as targeted by the Solar Energy Policy, would be achieved through utility scale projects, rooftops and REC mechanism. In case of utility scale projects, 1,000 MW out of 1,500 MW would be funded through SPO and the balance 500 MW by generation-based incentive provided by the government.

The state would encourage domestic rooftop solar installations through GBI. It would also promote solar power in home and street lighting. All new government buildings would be required to install solar rooftops. The existing buildings would be installed with solar rooftops in a phased manner. Installation of solar water heating systems would be made mandatory for industries having hot water boiler/steam boiler using fossil fuel.

To enhance solar rooftop penetration, net metering facility would be extended to solar power systems installed in commercial establishments and individual homes connected to the electrical grid so that excess power can be fed back with power credits accruing to the photovoltaic energy producer.

The Tamil Nadu Solar Energy Policy lists various other measures that the state government would initiate to promote solar power. These include development of solar parks with capacity of 50 MW each in 24 districts, adoption of tariff-based reverse/competitive bidding for selecting developers of solar power projects, single window clearance for development and commissioning of solar energy projects, promotion of integrated solar generation and manufacturing parks, development of exclusive solar manufacturing parks and establishment of solar power plants in industrial estates. The policy offers exemption from payment of electricity tax to the extent of 100 percent on electricity generated from solar power projects and used for self consumption/sale to a utility for a period of five years, tax concessions as per the Tamil Nadu Industrial Policy and exemption from demand cut to the extent of 100 per cent of the installed capacity assigned for captive use purpose.

In addition to meeting the target of generating 3,000 MW of solar power by 2015, the Tamil Nadu government has framed the Solar Energy Policy with the objectives of energy security, reducing carbon emissions, projecting the state as a solar hub, achieving grid parity by 2015, encouraging indigenous solar manufacturing facilities in the state, promoting research and development in the solar energy sector and hybrid systems, and creating skilled manpower and employment in a new industry.

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