Indian downstream oil companies are the latest to express interest in developing large-scale solar power projects to meet electricity demand.
Two of the leading oil refining companies in India – Indian Oil Corporation and Oil India – are planning to set up 1 GW solar power capacity in state of Madhya Pradesh to power their operations. The capacity shall be set up in the form of solar power park, which are becoming increasing popular in India these days, and will help the government-owned companies meet their renewable purchase obligation.
The plan by the two companies seems to be inline with the similar announcements by other public sector companies, including Coal India, NALCO, the Indian Railways and Neyveli Lignite Corporation. The central government has directed several entities to set up large-scale solar power projects at surplus land.
The government recently also launched the ‘solar zones’ policy. As per the policy, ten zones of 10,000 hectares each will be identified across the country for setting up an estimated 25 GW solar PV capacity. The land will be offered to interested project developers to set up large-scale solar power projects. These oil refineries may use this new policy to set up the solar power parks.
Over the last few months several entities across the country have express intention to source electricity from solar power projects. With the steep fall in tariff bids they hope to sign long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) with solar power projects and bypass the rising coal-based power cost. Solar PPAs will also help them fulfil their renewable purchase obligation.