Pune:  Reeling under a continued power deficit, Maharashtra is expanding its solar power generation programme in adherence to the Centre's renewable energy policy, exploring the conducive environs of Vidarbha, Khandesh and Marathwada regions, endowed with bright sunshine.

 After commissioning of a modest 1MW solar power plant in Chandrapur in Vidarbha in April last year, 'MahaGenco', the state owned power generation company is now executing installation of Rs 1600 crore solar power plant at Sakhari in Dhule district in Khandesh region of North Maharashtra which would be generating 125 MW in a big leap over the Chandrapur plant capacity, MahaGenco officials said.

The Sakhari solar plant for which inverters and modules are being imported from Germany and China, is expected to start power generation on its completion in March 2012, a
MahaGenco spokesman said.

"Plans are also afoot to set up solar power plant in Osmanabad in Marathwada region," he said.

A feasibility survey of the three regions of Vidarbha, Khandesh and Marathwada has shown that unlike Western Maharashtra and Konkan, they enjoy a plentiful of sunshine for eight months in a year with a scorching sun in the summers to aid solar power generation.

"Since setting up of solar power plants require a larger space as compared to thermal and other plants, to house solar panels, efforts are being made to acquire unused barren government land in these regions to boost the non-conventional energy generation programme in the state," officials said.

Work on one more Solar power plant with 4 MW capacity is also underway in Chandrapur where the 1MW plant has alreadybecome operational.

"This Rs 50 crore new plant is expected to be completed in October this year," said MahaGenco officials.  

Maharashtra is faced with an estimated power deficit to the tune of around 5000 MW with marginal fluctuations in the seasonal demand and supply of electricity.

The exploration of non-conventional renewable sources of energy is a policy priority under the Jawaharlal Nehru Solar Mission being implemented by the Central government as part of conservation measures and to fight global warming.

It costs about Rs 12 crore to generate one MW through the solar power plant.

Under the existing guidelines, it is mandatory for each power distribution company to purchase 6 percent of its electricity which is generated through non-conventional
energy sources and solar specific quantum is fixed at .25 (point twenty five) of the total purchase.

In yet another boost to the solar power generation in the state, Tata Power Company, too commissioned its 3MW solar power plant at Mulshi in Pune district in March this year which is producing around 13,000 units of electricity every day.

 A Tata Power co official said apart from the Mulshi plant in Maharashtra, the company was also setting up a 25 MW solar power plant in Mithapur in Gujarat which was expected to start commercial operation in December this year.

(Agencies)