India’s first 3 MW solar plant unveiled in Karnataka

Kolar (Karnataka), June 17 (IANS) Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah Thursday inaugurated India’s first 3 MW solar power plant in Karnataka’s Kolar district.

‘Solar energy is an inexhaustible source of energy. It is one of the most promising and non-conventional energy resources. Unlike fossil fuels and nuclear power, it is also an environmentally clean source of energy,’ Abdullah said, unveiling the plant at Yalesandra village in Bangarpet taluk of the district, about 100 km from Bangalore.

The photovoltaic (PV) cell plant, built in record 10 months by the Hyderabad-based Titan Energy Systems Ltd for the state-run Karnataka Power Corporation Ltd (KPCL) at a cost of Rs.59 crore (Rs.590 million), will generate four million units of power per annum.

Spread over 15 acres of land, the plant consists of 13,500 solar panels to absorb sun light as the source of energy, convert them into electricity and send to the control room through cables. The direct current (DC) is again converted into alternating current (AC) through twelve 250 KW inverters in the control room.

‘The current is evacuated to the nearest Boddikote sub-station at 11 kilovolts (kv) and wheeled to the state electricity grid. The generated power is metered at the control room,’ KPCL chief engineer S. Ramesh told IANS on the occasion.

Though the solar power plant is clean and eco-friendly, the upfront cost per MW is Rs.15 crore, as its panels are built with silica imported from the PV technology leader Suniva, Inc., based at Atlanta in the US.

‘As a result, the cost of generating solar power is Rs.16.90 per unit,’ Ramesh said.

To minimise transmission and distribution losses, KPCL will supply the solar power to about 500 pump-sets being used in the farmlands around the plant, which are deprived of irrigation facility.

The tail-end grid connected solar PV plants are a boon to farmers as it provides electricity to agricultural activities during day time.

‘This plant has been built to operate for 25 years, with 10 percent degradation after 10 years and 20 percent after 20 years,’ Titan Energy managing director S.Y.S. Chodagam said.

When sunlight is diminished by an overcast sky or clouds, the heat generated by sun during day is absorbed by the solar panels through the thermal process.

‘The energy generated from the panels will vary from 4,000 units to 18,000 units per day depending on the sunlight received through the seasons. As a tropical country, there is no dearth of sunlight for at least 10 months a year here,’ Chodagam noted.

KPCL is also building two more solar plants with 3 MW capacity at Itnal in Chikkodi taluk in Begalum district and Yapaladynni in Raichur district of north Karnataka.

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