As part of its efforts to promote solar energy, the Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (TNERC) has proposed a minimum quantum of solar renewable purchase obligation (RPO) in the overall renewable purchase obligation of the State.

According to the draft notification published on the Commission's website, the share of solar energy has been mentioned as 0.15 per cent of the total RPO in terms of energy in kilowatt per hour (KWH) for the year 2011-2012. For the next two years, it will be 0.25 per cent.

The norm, when approved by the Commission, will essentially be applicable to the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO) even though it will cover users owning captive generating plants and open access consumers in the State. The Commission has sought comments from stakeholders on or before June 20.

As far as the overall RPO is concerned, the State has already fulfilled the national norm of 10 per cent, in view of a large number of windmills. The total RPO is 14 per cent but the share of solar energy in the total RPO is negligible.

So far, only the private sector has evinced interest in putting up solar energy plants. Now, one five-megawatt (MW) plant is functioning in the Sivaganga District. This is a grid-connected plant, which is a solar photovoltaic (SPV) unit. Besides, under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, seven plants of one MW each have been approved. Officials say two plants, one each in Sivaganga and Nagapattinam Districts, are expected to be commissioned in a few months. Other districts include Tuticorin and Virudhunagar.

In addition, under the ‘bundling scheme' of the mission, one plant of 5 MW has been sanctioned and this will also come up in Tuticorin district. The ‘bundling scheme' envisages the nodal agency, NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam, to bundle solar power from the identified project promoters with power from the cheaper unallocated quota of the Union Power Ministry and sell it to distribution utilities.

According to the TNERC's order in May 2010, the capital cost has been put at about Rs.17.16 crore per MW for a solar PV project. The solar power tariff for 25 years has been worked out at Rs.18.45 per KWH.

Keywords: TANGEDCO