Telangana to give boost to solar energy.

 With no short-term solution to overcome power crisis and traditional sources such as thermal and hydel being used to maximum extent, the Telangana state government is now seriously pursuing utilization of solar power to augment existing electricity supply. It also called for bids for generation of 500 MWs of solar power in all nine districts of Telangana.

Though some enterprising farmers installed solar agriculture pumpsets in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and even in Tamil Nadu which have been working efficiently, the state governments failed to recognize the need for increasing solar energy contribution till last year.

The Non-Conventional Energy Development Corporation of AP (Nedcap) has invited bids a couple of weeks ago to procure 2,000 solar power pumpsets of 3 HP and 5 HP each for Telangana and AP. However, due to Hudud cyclone in Visakhapatman, the last date for tenders was extended on Wednesday.

Telangana, which is primarily dependent on groundwater irrigation, has nearly 18 lakh agricultural pumpsets. The tenders were floated for a meager 2,000 solar pumpsets which is not sufficient to cover the requirement of even a mandal. Interestingly, Nedcap floated tenders for purchasing 300 solar agriculture pumpsets in September last year. About 15 bidders came forward to supply pumpsets but the tenders were cancelled as the process was not approved by the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE).

However, in March this year, MNRE came forward to encourage solar pumpsets in the country and announced a 40% subsidy for 10,000 pumpsets. While 10% of the cost is to be borne by the beneficiary, the balance is to be provided as loan by NABARD. The scheme, however, is yet to take off as the Centre is yet to issue formal guidelines on the matter.

In terms of running costs for diesel engines, the cost of one kilo watt of power comes to about Rs 16 to Rs 18 and for electricity, the state government spends about Rs 12 per unit for power generation while solar units run on zero maintenance cost.

"During the last 8 years, power deficit has increased from 2% to 15% in united Andhra Pradesh. In other words, the state was not in a position to meet the 15% of peak demand with the existing installed capacity. With scant rainfall, there is no much scope to increase hydel power. Similarly, inadequate supply of coal is a limitation to increase thermal power. Under the circumstances, solar energy offers a 'ray of hope'," K Dhananjaya, an expert in solar energy equipment said.

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