Maharashtra Plans To Use Solar For 50% of Its Agri Power Demand

Highlights :

  • MSEDCL plans to issue bids for 7 GW of solar power under Mukhyamantri Saur Krushi Vahini Yojana 2.0 (MSKVY 2.0). 
  • Total power demand in Maharashtra stands at 14,000 MW, MSEDCL told MERC in its petition.
Maharashtra Plans To Use Solar For 50% of Its Agri Power Demand

The Maharashtra government is now planning to use solar energy to cater to 50 percent of the power demand of its agricultural sector in the state. The Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (MSEDCL), in its latest petition before the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC), disclosed this plan. 

MSEDCL has planned to procure 7,000 MW of solar power through a competitive bidding process with the help of MSEB Solar Agro Power Limited (MSAPL) under the Mukhyamantri Saur Krushi Vahini Yojana 2.0 (MSKVY 2.0). 

MSEDCL, in its written submission before the MERC, claimed that the average power demand for the agricultural sector in the state was around 14,000 MW. It said that the farmers get the electricity supply on a rational basis, whereas 50 percent of the supply given through agricultural feeders is given during the daytime. In contrast, the remaining 50 percent are given power at night. 

The state utility told the MERC in its petition that it has now planned to replace the entire nighttime supply of electricity, which is now sourced from conventional energy sources, with solar power. 

The MERC has now approved the MSEDL plan to procure 7 GW of solar power for this purpose. In its written order, scribing the details, the court order read, “For the implementation of MSKVY 2.0, 8 (eight) SPVs have already been incorporated by MSAPL. In addition to this, MSAPL has already identified about 2731 substations across the state of Maharashtra and is in the process of identifying appropriate revenue land for sub-leasing to the SPVs. As on the date of the present petition, certain parcels of private land have also been identified by MSAPL, details of which will be shared with the bidders prior to each bid.”

To undertake this exercise, the MSEDCL has planned to issue the tenders in a phased manner. MSEDCL claimed that under the scheme, more decentraslied solar plants would be created to minimize the loss of energy due to transmission. The plan is to have smaller units for injecting power directly into the identified substations. 

While the plans are to reap solar energy benefits, MSEDCL will likely use conventional sources too. “It is proposed that solar energy will become the primary source of energy for the agricultural sector, particularly during day time, when consumption is higher than at night. Any gap in requirement of power during day time will be either managed through demand side management by MSEDCL, and/or supplemented through spot procurement, or from conventional / sources of energy,” the MERC order read.

Earlier in May this year, the MERC approved the rate of Rs 3.10 per unit for power procurement under the scheme. The MSEDCL claimed that procurement of power would also prove more affordable for the discoms and lead to compliance with its Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPO). Maharashtra, meanwhile, has a shortfall in meetings its RPO targets. It also claimed that the whole process would lead to lesser obligations on MSEDCL too.

“MSEDCL will only be required to pay the fixed charges to such thermal power plants and can save the costs towards energy charges (which are higher costs) that would have otherwise been. payable by MSEDCL to such thermal power plants for off-taking thermal power. With the additional solar power under MSKVY 2.0 and subsequent reduction in power from thermal power plants, the coal stock position at the thermal power plants would also improve which can be used for consumption during peak time, resulting in lowering MSEDCL’s dependence on spot procurement for meeting any shortfall,” the order read. 

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