The state government of Karnataka plans to unveil a new solar power policy next month and phase out the system of power purchase agreements (PPAs), which have been problematic for Karnataka because of excess production and must-use clauses.
There are no storage facilities for solar power, and the government finds it difficult to fulfil the rigid requirements of PPAs that were signed long back. At the same time, it has to utilise funds to keep conventional sources alive as a backup.
According to industry sources, the government has been relooking at the solar policy, which was formulated in 2014 and is up for renewal in 2021.
“The bigger problem for the state is to manage the unreliability factor in renewable energy, in particular solar and wind. As a result, we are now concentrating on bringing newer technology on solar power battery storage units. We are also bringing a new solar policy, which will hopefully solve our problems,” said state energy minister, V Sunil Kumar.
He added that the policy would look at rationalising the quantum of solar and wind power to be generated in the state.
The government is also trying to identify ways to balance renewable energy sources with conventional ones such as thermal and hydro. It is not feasible to keep the thermal and hydro plants as backups, spending crores for readiness, and force customers to pay for the same.
Further, the energy department is also working on a plan to utilise solar power for the operation of irrigation pump sets, to offset must-use clauses in long-term PPAs and reduce power subsidies provided to farmers. There are two mechanisms which includes the old scheme of offline solar pump sets and the new one that is being looked into for supplying solar power directly to agriculture feeder lines rather than merging it with commercial and domestic lines.