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Maharashtra keen to ditch costly coal for sun to fire power plants

(20 Apr 2015)

With uncertainties looming large over the future of some of its coal-fired power projects, the Maharashtra government is planning to use the land acquired for them to generate solar energy.

"The Maharashtra State Power Generation Company Limited (MahaGenco) had planned a few projects at sites like Dondaicha, Bhusaswal and Nashik. However, there are no proper coallinkages for these power plants. While land acquisition has been completed, the high transport cost for coal is a problem," said state power minister Chandrashekhar Bavankule.

"The cost of transporting coal to these proposed projects is huge. It would have led to a unit of electricity costing ?4 as against ?3 available in the open market," said Bavankule.

Instead of keeping the acquired land vacant, the minister said, the government was mulling over setting up solar power plants there. Bavankule said that their plan also included sites at the location of their thermal power plants like Parli. He said these proposed solar power projects will generate an estimated 250 MW.

"Power projects must be put up where raw material is available," he stressed. Bavankule said they had been allocated a coal mine in Chhattisgarh with a capacity of 27 MMT per year. "We have taken possession of the mine and production can start in two years time," he added, stating that they were planning a 3,000 to 4,000 MW pithead-based power plant at this mine to meet the state's electricity demand from 2020-21 onwards. The coal could also be used to meet the needs of new plants at Koradi and Chandrapur.

MahaGenco too has commissioned around 180 MW solar power projects and plans to take it to around 450 MW by the end of 2015-16, which is one of the highest by state utilities. This includes proposed solar power projects at Kaudgaon, Sakhri, Gangakhed, Yavatmal and Parbhani.

In November 2014, it commissioned a 50 MW grid connected solar power project at Baramati on a public private partnership (PPP) basis. This project is expected to generate 83 million units of power annually. The MahaGenco also has two projects of 5 MW and 1 MW each at Chandrapur and a 125 MW facility at Sakri in Dhule, which is the largest in the country.

News Source : DNA