The Top 5 PSUs With Big Solar Plans For India

India’s electricity mix is where the country hopes to make the biggest gains, when it comes to its contribution to cutting carbon emissions. Currently, the country’s sources of power generation range from conventional sources such as coal, lignite, natural gas, oil, hydro and nuclear power to viable non-conventional sources such as wind, solar, and agricultural and domestic waste. India is the third-largest producer and second-largest consumer of electricity in the world. And had an installed power capacity of 374.2 GW as of 31 November 2020.

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Against this is the challenge of a peak demand of just over 180 GW, making it even tougher to transition towards renewable energy. Fittingly, some of the biggest PSU’s in the energy mix have also dived right in, for without their cooperation and efforts, the country’s transition simply cannot happen. It is no surprise that the majority come from a fossil fuel driven past, and are looking to change to control their own future too.

ntpc ltdFirst in the list is NTPC (National Thermal Power Corporation Limited), India’s largest power utility with an installed capacity of 62,918 MW (including JVs), with plans to become a 130 GW company by 2032. By 2032, the company plans to have a minimum of 32000 MW capacity through RE sources constituting nearly 25% of its overall power generation capacity. This will include almost 30 GW of solar capacity.

Present installed capacity of NTPC including 11,755 MW through JVs/Subsidiaries comprises of 46 NTPC Stations which have 24 Coal based stations, 7 gas based stations, 1 Hydro station, 1 small hydro, 12 Solar PV and 1 Wind based Station and 25 Joint Venture stations having 9 coal based, 4 gas based, 8 hydro, 1 small hydro 2 Wind and 1 Solar PV

It also has 2298 MW of RE projects which are under implementation, out of which 237 MW constitutes floating solar projects located in reservoirs in NTPC’s existing stations. Ramagundam 100 MW Floating Solar being set up under non PPA mode, is the largest in the country for now. Apart from these NTPC has developed Geo-polymer coarse aggregate from fly ash. The development will help in replacing natural aggregates reducing the impact on environment.

NHPC IndiaFollowing is NHPC (National Hydroelectric Power Corporation), which has become the largest organisation for hydropower development in India with a base of almost 7 GW from 24 power projects. NHPC Limited has also diversified in the field of Solar & Wind power.

During the financial year 2019-2020, NHPC Power Stations achieved the generation of 26121 MU and had an Income from sale of Power of Rs. 8301 Crore with a Net Profit of Rs. 3007 Crore.

On the solar front NHPC has signed an MoU with Green Energy Development Corporation of Odisha Limited (GEDCOL). As part of the MoU, they will form a joint venture company for the development of techno-commercially feasible floating solar power projects of nearly 500 MW in the state of Odisha. In 2019, it also floated a 2 GW solar tender successfully. NHPC also has some of the most ambitious plans for floating solar plants, aiming for a 1 GW plus target there, in states including Odisha and Telangana.  It already has approvals for over 250 MW of additional solar projects on top of that.

Third in line is NLC India Ltd, which is one of India’s leading Public sector company engaged in mining and power generation. Established in 1956, its operations are spreading throughout the country. Its Present total Power Generation Capacity including joint ventures is 5661.06 MW, out of which is 3240MW (Lignite), 1000MW (Coal), 1370.06 MW (Solar) and 51MW (Wind). It’s renewable energy capacity of 1.4 GW is among the highest for all CPSE’s, in fact.

Further, NLC India has installed 34 Wind Turbine Generators of capacity 1.50 MW each and also commissioned 440 MW Solar Photo Voltaic Power plant in Neyveli, resulting in an overall power generating capacity of 3731 MW. Apart from this NLC also has registered for new initiatives in green energy sector such as it has signed an agreement with Coal India for formation of a Joint Venture Company (JVC) to develop solar and thermal power assets to the tune of 5000 MW on pan-India basis. In 2019, NLC actually made it to the lit of top 5 developers to have commissioned utility scale solar projects, on the back of its initiatives. From lignite, one of the most polluting variants of fuel used for power generation, to Solar, NLC is certainly cleaning up at a very fast pace. With 2.8 GW of solar+wind projects in the pipeline to 2025, this PSU  is not going to be left behind for sure.

Next we have SJVN Limited, yet another hydroelectric power generation Company. It was incorporated in 1988 with the joint venture of Government of India and Government of Himachal Pradesh. It started a single project and single state operation i.e. 1500 MW Nathpa Jhakri Hydro Power Station in Himachal Pradesh, and now has commissioned seven projects totalling 2016.51 MW of installed capacity and 86km 400 KV transmission line. It has a joint venture with Durk Green Power corporation of Bhutan with 50:50 equity contribution for execution of 600 MW Kholongchhu Hydro Electric Project in Bhutan.

It has also signed an agreement with IREDA for financing green energy projects. IREDA will undertake Techno-Financial due diligence of Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency and Conservation Projects for SJVN and will assist in developing an action plan to create and acquire Renewable Energy projects for the next five years. With Himachal Pradesh identifying solar potential of 6 GW in the Lahaul Spiti region, SJVN has already been given charge of a 880 MW solar project in the Spiti region. In August this year, it had floated tenders for land to build a 500 MW project in Rajasthan. In September, it announced it had won a 100 mega watt (MW) solar project in Raghanesda Solar Park in Gujarat. A second tender to acquire land in Rajasthan followed last month. All in all, SJVN may have the least to show in hand, but when it comes to the future, this firm from Himachal might just surprise a few industry watchers if it executes on its plans well.

Bringing up the rear of this list is Coal India Limited (CIL), the state owned coal mining corporate that is the single largest coal producer in the world. CIL, even as it targets a billion tonnes of coal production by 2023-24, is looking long term as it seeks to build a renewables portfolio too.

CIL is planning to set up 14 rooftop and ground-mounted solar power projects with a total capacity of 3,000 MW by FY24. This would entail an investment of around Rs 5,650 crore, with Rs 3,650 crore to come from CIL’s capex and the rest through joint venture initiatives. It has also formed a JV with NTPC and signed an MoU with the Solar Energy Corporation of India for solar projects of 1,000 MW each. CIL enjoys some unique potential advantages, be it access to land from its mines that might be closed or are closed, to access to government land as a critical PSU.

Collectively, these 5 energy PSU’s have ensured that if their plans stay on track, PSU involvement in the future energy grid of the country, with a much higher share of renewable energy, will remain as high as ever. Of the close to 75 GW of solar capacity expected to be added by 2025, close to 15 GW could easily come from them.

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