Government plans to set up two Ultra-Mega Renewable Energy Power Parks (UMREPPs) requiring an investment of $1.5 billion each. These projects of 2000 mega watt (MW) each will be set up under the Solar Park scheme and will involve a special purpose vehicle (SPV) that will act as the implementing agency. To get the states on board and facilitate the requisite clearances, the state governments will be paid ₹0.02 per unit on electricity generated from these projects over their life time.
The state governments will facilitate the SPV to identify and acquire land and obtaining all required statutory clearances. The SPVs will be paid park development and operations and maintenance (O&M) charges by the developers, and ₹0.02 per unit on electricity generated from these projects over their life time. The developers will be selected through tariff based competitive bids.
These ultra-mega renewable energy power parks plans comes in the backdrop of Tesla and China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd (CATL) and BYD Co. Ltd among other companies showing an initial interest in the Indian government’s plan to build large factories to make lithium-ion batteries at an investment of about Rs50,000 crore. Aimed at securing India’s energy needs, the plan to set up these 50-gigawatt hour (GWh) factories has been cleared by EFC, with the final tender expected to be awarded by February. Each gigawatt hour (1,000 megawatt hours) of battery capacity can power 1 million homes for an hour and around 30,000 electric cars.
In what is being marked as a turning point for India’s green economy, investments in the country’s renewable energy sector doubled over the last five years to around $20 billion in 2018, surpassing the capital expenditure in the thermal power sector, according to a joint study by Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) and Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW). This comes in the backdrop of India’s additional clean energy investment requirement of around $80 billion till 2022, growing more than three-fold to $250 billion during 2023-30.
India has been trying to rejig its energy mix in favour of green energy sources. At present, India has an installed power-generation capacity of 357,875 megawatts (MW), of which around 22% or 80,000 MW is generated through clean energy projects such as solar and wind. India has become one of the top renewable producers globally with plans to achieve 175GW by 2022 and 500GW by 2030 as part of its climate commitments.
The power ministry’s ambitious ultra-mega power project (UMPP) programme was India’s earlier attempt to create ultra-mega renewable energy power parks at a single location. However, it has had its share of problems, weighed by ecological concerns and local resistance.