Desperate to push its hydro power agenda that got stuck over the last decade for flaws in policy and implementation, the Himachal Pradesh government is apparently finding it difficult to make headway even in boosting solar power generation.
While the proposed 1000 MW solar park in distant Spiti in tribal Lahaul Spiti district has failed to take off for the past few years for want of transmission line, the government is now re-examining the conditions for rooftop solar power generation, with Central and state subsidies.
“The absence of transmission line is the main hitch in setting up the solar park in Spiti. The state government will give land for the purpose. The private investors will come, but it require a transmission line to evacuate the power generated. For this, we have already written to the Government of India for hundred per cent funding. Only then we can take up this task,” MPP and Power minister, Anil Sharma told The Statesman.
Sharma said even otherwise the government is improving the transmission lines in the state with funding from Asian Development Bank (ADB) in 90:10 ratio. “The state got 113 million US dollars in 2011, 110 million US dollars in 2014. In the third phase, we have sought 105 million US dollars from ADB for strengthening the transmission lines to evacuate power generated in the state,” he said.
“Although the transmission load is not much at the moment as the hydro sector was stuck in last decade for some reasons, but keeping in view the availability of funds in 90:10, we have continued with the project to strengthen the transmission network. This will help,” said Sharma.
As per records, 737 allotted (small and big) hydro projects could not take off over the last decade for poor anticipation on costs and clearances.
The state government has, however, relaxed its hydro power policy recently to see the projects get going, it is side by trying to focus on the solar power generation in line with Central government’s stress, lately.
“There is only 5 per cent GST on solar power, while its 18 per cent on hydro power. More so, the transmission of solar power is free,” said the minister, who has already told Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board Ltd and the Electricity Regulator to see whether the rooftop solar power generation could be allowed to households to meet their own requirement. The left out power could be transmitted to grid.
Presently, the rooftop solar power scheme allows generation of solar power to the extent of 30 per cent of sanctioned load to households/ institutions. Rest is to be supplied by HPSEB Ltd only, which has made the issue complicated.
Himachal Pradesh has 280 sunny days in a year to tap solar power. The state’s energy development agency HIMURJA proposes to cover 62 government buildings in Shimla this year under rooftop solar power generation scheme, tapping 2.5 MW solar power and 8 MW of solar power for domestic consumers and institutions.