Delhi Metro starts buying solar energy

Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has started procuring solar energy at about ?6 a unit, claiming that the tariff will remain at the same level for the next 25 years.

The move comes at a time when DMRC is saddled with high electricity costs at about ?7/unit. The concept of the same tariff level for 25 years, though common for solar energy, has led to a situation where DMRC is paying lower tariff, albeit after including government subsidy.

Interestingly, DMRC has also started selling solar power from its residential colony at a commercial rate of ?9/unit to the grid during day time, which is higher than ?6/unit at which it is being procured.

During day, there is not much use for the power generated in the common areas of the residential units, Anoop Kumar Gupta, Director (Electrical), DMRC, told BusinessLine.

“We have entered into about five-six power purchase agreements (PPAs), all of which have a pre-defined tariff for 25 years. We have entered into the PPAs to procure electricity ranging from ?6.94 to ?5.85,” said Gupta, indicating that the prices have been falling progressively. In the last one year, DMRC generated 6 lakh units of electricity from solar panels. Its annual consumption is 685 million units in 2014-15.

“We get the solar panels installed at a no-cost basis and only pay for the power procurement. The power producers are selected through open bidding,” he said. The players include Sukam, Purushottam, etc.

While solar power tariffs average between ? 5.5/unit to ? 7/unit in the country, the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission has notified the generic “levellised” generation tariff for solar power at ?7.04 a unit for 2015-16.

Earlier this month, ACME Solar commissioned five projects with a combined capacity of around 100 MW. The tariffs in the 25-year PPAs for these plants were around ?5.77 a unit without any viability gap funding.

Last month, Azure Power commissioned a 100-MW plant in Jodhpur, Rajasthan from which power would be sold to the Solar Energy Corporation of India at ?5.45 a unit, but this was with a viability gap funding.