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In a first; Rajgir, Bodh Gaya set to be green energy towns

Rajgir and Bodh Gaya are set to become the country ’s first fully green energy efficient towns, as Bihar vies with Delhi, Goa and Odisha to supply 24x7 clean power round the year through the first of its kind renewable energy hybrid model
By Ruchir Kumar I Edited by Shilpa Ambardar, Patna
UPDATED ON MAR 18, 2021 10:36 PM IST

Rajgir and Bodh Gaya are set to become the country ’s first fully green energy efficient towns, as Bihar vies with Delhi, Goa and Odisha to supply 24x7 clean power round the year through the first of its kind renewable energy hybrid model.

The Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), a central government PSU, which will develop the system in Andhra Pradesh, has agreed in principle to Bihar’s proposal to feed clean power to the two towns and some important government installations in Patna, including the Raj Bhawan, chief minister’s house, Legislative Assembly, MLA quarters, Patna high court, Gyan Bhawan, Bihar museum and the Vidyut Bhawan. It is now in advance stage of deliberations to grant approval, said an official.

“Bihar has opted for a bundle power plan, using solar energy during the day and hydel power through pump storage facility in evening to meet its full requirement of clean power for Rajgir and Bodh Gaya,” said Sanjeev Hans, Bihar’s energy secretary and also the chairman-cum-managing director of the Bihar State Power Holding Company Limited (BSPHCL). The hybrid power will be available to the two towns from June 2023, said Hans.

“The excess solar energy generated during the day will be used to run the turbines to pump and store water in the reservoir upstream and generate hydel pump storage power through it in the evening,” he said.

Bihar will purchase 200 MW hybrid power through the SECI. It hopes to get 160 MW solar power during off-peak hours (9.30am to 5.30pm) and 39.93 MW hydel pump storage power during peak hour power demand (5.30pm to 9.30am).

At an effective cost of 4.03 per unit (kWh), Bihar will pay the SECI 2.77 billion annually for procurement of the renewable energy power, he added.

The state pays an annualised average power purchase at the cost of 4.90 to 4.96 per unit, with thermal power contributing to 78% of the state’s power share.

“Purchasing energy through the power market exchange during peak hours invariably results in incurring more expenditure than the 2.77 billion required for renewable energy through the hybrid model. The arrangement with SECI will benefit our DISCOMs (distribution companies),” said Hans.

The Centre has also waived off the 1 per unit inter-state transmission charges to encourage renewal energy projects commissioned by June 2023. It will also bear the transmission and distribution loss, which is generally up to 2%, in ferrying power from the south Indian state.

The SECI had floated the tender last year, inviting stakeholders to avail of green power round the clock through renewable energy. Bihar showed interest in February, this year.

What is delaying the SECI nod, said officials, was Bihar’s insistence on customised power supply — 160 MW solar and 39.93 MW hydel — as against the SECI formula to give 37.5 MW through hydel pump storage plant in a 200 MW renewable energy hybrid package.

“We are waiting for the power sale agreement with the SECI,” Hans said.

Non-conventional energy projects in the state were restricted so far to supply of clean power partially, with backup of thermal power.

The SECI said it was in advance level of talks for approval.

“We are in final phase of approval. We may finalise the document on power sale agreement with DISCOMs in Bihar hopefully within a week or two,” said a SECI official, who requested anonymity.

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