The Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has proposed what could be the largest solar power target in the country as it lays out plans to achieve the mandated solar power consumption target.

The Uttar Pradesh New and Renewable Energy Development Agency (UPNEDA) recently released a draft policy that calls for installed solar power capacity target of 10.7 gigawatts by 2022. The target includes 4.3 gigawatts of rooftop capacity as well. The new policy puts Uttar Pradesh on track to meet the 8% solar power consumption target mandated by the central government for all states.

The new draft policy has some major differences when compared with the previous solar power policy. The previous policy had a meagre target of 500 megawatts installed by March 2017. The state has failed miserably in achievement of this target. The state is reported to have just 102 megawatts of operational solar power capacity by the end of March 2017. No solar power parks were proposed either.

The UPNEDA now proposes to take the tried and successfully tested way of large-scale solar power parks. The Agency shall set up a joint venture company with the Solar Energy Corporation of India to oversee implementation of several large-scale solar power parks across the state over barren and wasteland. The minimum installed capacity of such parks will be 100 megawatts. Power utilities in Uttar Pradesh will procure at least 50% of the electricity generated from these solar parks while they balance could be exported to other states.

The large-scale solar park programme of the draft policy could be a game changer for the state of Uttar Pradesh. The state borders with Haryana, Delhi and Uttarakhand while Punjab and Himachal Pradesh are also nearby. All of these states will struggle to meet the 8% solar consumption target as they either lack waste, barren land to set up large-scale solar projects or have low solar radiation or the mountainous terrain makes it difficult for setting up new transmission lines to connect new solar projects to the existing grid.

Uttar Pradesh can easily export any surplus solar power that it may generate to these states. Or these states could urge the Uttar Pradesh government to expand the solar parks to accommodate additional capacity for them; something that Uttar Pradesh itself is planning to do.

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