India gets a solar plant in 100 days

Sarosh Bana

A 5 MW solar PV project has recently been commissioned in 100 days - in the Rawra village near Jodhpur, in India’s northern desert state of Rajasthan.

The project has been established by Mahindra Solar One, a leading solar power developer in the country and a joint venture between the US$14.4 billion Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) group, based in Mumbai, and Kiran Energy Solar Power Pvt. Ltd, also from Mumbai. Pursuing the foundation of over 100 MW of large grid-connected projects over the next 2 to 3 years, the company says it aims to be at the forefront of the solar revolution in India by playing a significant role in solar power generation.

The Rajasthan plant is part of the Indian Government’s Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) and Mahindra Solar One has already won 50 MW of solar projects in JNNSM Phase 1B.

Presiding over the launch ceremony, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, India’s minister for new and renewable energy, said he was delighted to be launching one of the first solar plants commissioned under the JNNSM policy: “The policy has been crafted to create a robust and scalable solar industry and my ministry recognises the important role solar energy plays for our energy security,” he noted.

M&M Vice chairman and managing director Anand Mahindra said his group company was aiming to be one of the “top three” in this industry, while his group was committed to be involved in enterprises that provided sustainable solutions for a better quality of life.

“The 5 MW plant will provide solar electricity equivalent to around 60,000 rural homes, conserving in the process 8,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year,” mentioned Vish Palekar, business head of Cleantech Ventures, a division of Mahindra Partners. “The plant has also created over 200 new jobs in the region and holds the distinction of generating the highest output per MW of any solar plant in India with cutting-edge tracker technology that maximises energy from the sun.” He added that the project was also the first to achieve non-recourse financing, demonstrating the confidence of the banking sector in the solar industry.

The project was executed on a turnkey basis by another M&M company, Mahindra EPC (MEPC), the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) arm of Mahindra Solar. MEPC is also establishing a 2 MW thin-film project in the north Indian city of Lucknow in the State of Uttar Pradesh.

Pointing out that MNRE has created strong policies and mechanisms for solar development in India under JNNSM - which is driving the momentum for building solar power projects in India - Zhooben Bhiwandiwala, executive vice president and managing partner, Mahindra Partners Division, said that these initial projects would be very critical for laying a strong foundation.

The Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) arm of Mahindra Solar - Mahindra EPC (MEPC) - has commissioned this 5 MW project in a record time of 100 days, utilising its proven expertise in design, engineering & construction. These quality techniques are being deployed in other solar projects - including that of 3rd party developers.

Sarosh Bana is India correspondent for Renewable Energy Focus magazine.

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Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Solar electricity