The plant is expected to provide electricity to around 60,000 rural homes

Mahindra Solar One, a solar power developer, commissioned its first 5 MW solar power plant. A part of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) policy, the project is located near Jodhpur in Rajasthan and was the first to achieve non-recourse financing in the industry.

The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) arm of Mahindra Solar, Mahindra EPC, has commissioned this project in a record time of 100 days and the plant is expected to provide solar electricity equivalent to around 60,000 rural homes and avoid emissions of about 8,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.

Mahindra Solar One is a joint venture between Kiran Energy and Mahindra and plans to play a larger role in solar power generation both as an EPC contractor in on-grid and off-grid and as a developer set up greater than 100 MW in the next 2-3 years.

In 2011, it won a 30 MW bid under the Phase-1B of JNNSM. It has projects under development across Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

Speaking at the launch ceremony on Monday, Farooq Abdullah, Union Minister for New & Renewable Energy said, “The New & Renewable Energy Ministry recognises the important role solar energy plays for our country's energy security. How this energy will be stored is the big challenge. Research is on in hydrogen and salts and batteries. It is an evolving technology and the costs are coming down.”

He advised the Mahindra Group to venture abroad with the solar energy initiative, particularly Africa where it is needed most, adding that in India wind energy generated around 17,000 MW of power and was adding 3,000 MW per annum. “The other areas we are looking at are tidal energy and geo-thermal energy for which we are exploring Chhattisgarh and Ladakh.”

Anand Mahindra, Vice-Chairman & Managing Director, Mahindra & Mahindra said that India had no option but to look aggressively at solar energy as the energy demand was in the order of 75-100 gigawatts over the next decade.

“All renewable energy initiatives require an ecosystem — finance, technology and the access to rural areas. We aim to be one of the top three companies in this industry and Mahindra Solar One will provide a fillip to our nation's solar competencies.”