The central government has launched a program for the solarization of Odisha’s Konark Sun Temple and the surrounding Konark town.
According to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), under this program, the government plans to set up a 10 MW grid-connected solar project and various solar off-grid applications such as solar trees, solar drinking water kiosks, and off-grid solar power projects with battery storage.
In a statement, the MNRE added that the government would provide 100% central financial assistance (CFA) and the Odisha Renewable Energy Development Agency (OREDA) will be the implementing agency for the project.
Speaking about the program, Union Power Minister R.K.Singh said, “Government of India launched the program with an objective to take forward the Prime Minister’s vision to develop the historical Sun Temple town of Konark in Odisha as ‘Surya Nagri,’ to convey a message of synergy between the modern use of solar energy and the ancient Sun Temple, and the importance of promoting solar energy.”
The MNRE has added that for the 10 MW grid-connected solar PV project, the viability gap funding (VGF) will be ₹10 million (~$133,004)/MW and the total CFA required is ₹100 million (~$1.33 million).
According to the MNRE, the project will be established under the developer mode with VGF to bring the tariff to the average power purchase cost (APPC). The present APPC in Odisha is ₹2.77 (~$0.04)/kWh. The successful project developer will sign the power purchase agreement (PPA) with the Grid Corporation of Odisha (GRIDCO) for 25 years.
The Ministry noted that it would provide one-time VGF support with a maximum ceiling of ₹10 million (~$133,004)/MW. The actual CFA will be released based on the actual VGF discovered through competitive bidding.
For the proposed project, guidelines for the National Monument Authority (NMA) will be applicable, and the project should meet all technical standards as specified by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).
It will be mandatory for the project developer to provide annual maintenance charges for five years from the date of commissioning of the systems. The duration of the program is up to March 31, 2021.
In March 2020, Mercom reported that the MNRE had announced ₹650 million (~$8.63 million) towards a program for the solarization of the Sun Temple in Modhera, Gujarat. It was the pilot demonstration project for a town that runs entirely on solar energy. While the Odisha project is expected to receive 100% CFA from the MNRE, the Modhera program will receive 50% CFA from the MNRE and 50% from the Government of Gujarat.
Odisha is also going to see the development of another solar project. Vedanta Limited has issued a request for proposal (RfP) recently to install 100 MW of solar projects in Jharsuguda district of Odisha.
According to Mercom’s India Solar Project Tracker, Odisha is one of the least developed states in terms of solar expansion. The state had only 416 MW of solar projects in operation, while 58 MW of solar projects were under development as of March 2020.
Anjana is a news editor at Mercom India. Before joining Mercom, she held roles of senior editor, district correspondent, and sub-editor for The Times of India, Biospectrum and The Sunday Guardian. Before that, she worked at the Deccan Herald and the Asianlite as chief sub-editor and news editor. She has also contributed to The Quint, Hindustan Times, The New Indian Express, Reader’s Digest (UK edition), IndiaSe (Singapore-based magazine) and Asiaville. Anjana holds a Master’s degree in Geography from North Bengal University, and a diploma in mass communication and journalism from Guru Ghasidas University, Bhopal.