According to reports, can solar power address the issue of power deficit in Tamil Nadu? It appears so at his juncture considering that the State, despite having the highest installed wind power capacity faces some inherent challenges. These include poor evacuation infrastructure and age-old windmills.
The above observation led speakers at the Solar Energy Investment and Technology Forum 2013 to conclude that solar looked to be a more viable option than wind, and probably ‘the’ option to mitigate the power deficit scenario in the State.
There are inherent challenges though in integrating renewable energy, such as poor evacuation infrastructure, power system stability and operation, banking issues and costs and impacts of balancing generation, said M. Sudharshan, Manager, Consulting (Energy and Resources), Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India Private Ltd.
Speaking at the forum organised by UBM India at The Residency here, Sudharshan said, “according to World Institute of Sustainable Energy, the total renewable energy potential is over 720000 MW. The State has the highest wind power installed capacity (which is 41 per cent of the country’s total wind capacity); close to 15 per cent of Tamil Nadu’s generation is met by renewables. More is possible through untapped potential” he added.
Tamil Nadu Solar Policy 2012 focuses on decentralised production, incentives and supports small systems. “While this looks positive, effective implementation is imperative for realising the benefits,” he added.
The lukewarm response to Tangedco’s (Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Company) 1000 MW bid (only 92 applications were submitted for 104 projects amounting to 499 MW) points to the possibility of continuance of the existing current deficit scenario.
Most of the project bids were for small project setups of 1 to 5 MW. “This shows the apprehension of bidders to go for larger projects due to Tangedco’s financial position, grid availability and stiff project deadline of eight months.”
The rate per unit of power offered by the Tamil Nadu Government to solar developers, though comparable to Andhra Pradesh, is the lowest compared to states such as Odisha and Gujarat.
Tangedco has offered Rs 6.48 per kilo watt as a final ‘workable’ tariff. This is comparable to the Rs 6.49/kWh offered by Andhra Pradesh, but far lower than Rs 8/kWh offered by Orissa and Rs 8/kWh by Gujarat.
Jayamurugan Knitting at Kullaigoundenputhur near Tirupur has taken the lead in operating the entire unit using solar power.
The unit, which belongs to the Velmurugan Dyeing Group of companies, is probably the first in the apparel cluster to venture into such production methodology to meet its entire power consumption.
Three knitting machines and a compressor in the unit are run from the power generated from the 40 photovoltaic cell panels and a small production-cum-conversion unit.
Company sources said that the system helped not only to overcome load shedding but also operate it during normal power supply hours. Almost 60 per cent of its daily consumption needs is met by this system, reducing the off-take of power from the state grid and in cutting down its expenses significantly.
The entire system was priced at Rs 17 lakh (excluding Rs 5.7 lakh received through the subsidy assistance of MNRE).