Coal India Ltd testing green energy; ventures into solar power off blocks in hunt for green energy

Having bagged an initial 100-MW solar power project in Gujarat, Coal India Ltd. aims to build a 3,000-MW portfolio as part of its agenda to turn carbon-neutral by 2024. The power purchase agreement (PPA) signed recently between the Coal India Ltd (CIL) and Gujarat Urja Vikash Nigam Ltd (GUVNL) for supply of solar power to Gujarat, though small in size, marks an important milestone in its journey towards becoming a carbon-neutral company.

The PPA, signed for a tenure of 25 years, materialised after reverse auction bidding, with CIL quoting the lowest tariff of Rs 2.20 per unit among 10 bidders, which included experienced players like NTPC. 

The coal producer’s foray into solar generation would entail the development of a 100-MW solar power plant at an expenditure of Rs 442 crore in the state. The PPA signed towards the end of last month stipulates the 100-MW solar plant being operationalised and supplying power to GUVNL within 18 months of the inking of the agreement.

The company’s renewable foray is a part of its diversification agenda of becoming a carbon-neutral company by 2024, even as it increases its coal output to 1 billion tonnes per annum. The mining behemoth plans to power its mining operations through a 3,000-MW solar portfolio, which would include 14 ground-mounted and rooftop projects, thereby reducing its carbon footprint. It has earmarked an investment of Rs 13,400 crore to create a solar portfolio of 3,000 MW by 2024.

Two subsidiaries, CIL Solar PV Limited and CIL NavakarniyaUrja Ltd, have been set up to push Coal India’s green energy agenda. While CIL Solar PV Ltd will develop solar photovoltaic modules and similar other products, adding to the value chain, CIL Navikarniya Urja Ltd is mandated to develop non-conventional, clean, renewable energy sources, including solar power.

The company has also worked out the backward and forward integration process – from producing solar photovoltaic modules to selling the generated power – before it threw its hat into solar bidding in Gujarat.

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