Last week, the Karnataka government inaugurated the first phase of a 2,000 megawatts (MW) Pavagada solar park in the drought-prone Pavagada region of Tumkur district, about 112 miles from Bengaluru. The first phase of the park called “Shakti Sthala” will generate 600MW, while the balance 1,400MW is expected to be commissioned by the end of this year. The solar project, touted as the largest in the world, is spread over 13,000 acres and five villages. It is part of the “Karnataka Solar Policy 2014-2021,” which aims to decrease dependence on traditional power sources and move to environment-friendly ones to meet the growing power needs of the state. Karnataka is the third largest renewable energy producer in the country and has set a target of sourcing at least 20 percent from renewable sources in the future.
Pavagada Solar Park, Part of “Nava Karnataka Nirmana”
The Pavagada solar park is also part of the government’s “Nava Karnataka Nirmana” (building a new Karnataka) campaign to attract big ticket, high investment projects to the state. The park ties in with the center’s scheme to generate 100 gigawatts (GW) of solar power by 2020. The land for the solar park has been taken on a 25-year lease by the government from around 2,300 farmers on an annual rental basis. This move is intended to curb the mass migration of people from the region, which has been declared drought-hit in 54 of the last 60 years.
The park’s development was initiated with the creation of the Karnataka Solar Power Development Corp. Ltd (KSPDCL) in March 2015 as a joint venture between Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Ltd (KREDL) and Solar Energy Corp. of India (SECI). NTPC pulled out of the project a month ago saying it was unable to supply procured power at the agreed cost. KSPDCL uses the “plug and play” model, under which it acquires and develops land as blocks for solar power generation, embedded with the required government approvals, and gives it out to solar power developers (SPDs) through auctions.
The government believes that development and economic growth of a nation occurs when its people become partners in the development process.
Keywords: Karnataka, Government, Solar Park, Renewable Energy, ARC Advisory Group.