To expand its green energy options,Himachal Pradesh has cleared states first solar power project at Verra Dol,near Naina Devi in Bilaspur.
The 2 MW project to be set-up on pilot basis will cost nearly Rs 40 crore and will be completed by 2012.
The solar project marks the drive of Himachal to tap energy from non-conventional resources,which have so far remained untapped for years,even as the state has huge potential for solar power.
The move comes close to the heels of National Solar Mission,which the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has launched last year to generate 1,000 MW power by 2013 and another 20,000 MW by 2022.
Tarun Kapoor,MD Himachal Power Corporation,said: Considering its enormous solar power potential,Himachal can easily generate at least 50 MW of solar power by getting right expertise and funding. Since solar power is costly,there is need for subsidy or other grants.
To mobilise funds for solar projects,the state government has written to the Centre to help seek external funding in its drive to tap green energy.
States chief secretary Asha Swaroop is understood to have written a letter to the Centre informing about states plans of tapping solar and wind energy. The solar mission also proposes to ease duty on import of related items and fiscal incentives to private players.
At present the cost of solar power is estimated to be Rs 15 to 16 per unit,which,experts believe,could be brought down to Rs 6 per unit if the government gives incentives to solar power players.
Some private investors have already submitted proposals to the Himachal government to manufacture solar-based equipment.
Kapoor said: Once the project at Bilaspur makes headway,the government expects lots of players coming forward. Tamil Nadu has been a pioneer in solar energy and some of the companies,which have shown interest to invest in Himachal,are from southern states.
The government is also in touch with international experts for drawing plans for tapping solar and wind energy.
The Power Corporation has also got offers from four leading companies to enter into joint venture for producing wind energy in the state.
Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal had recently held talks with Union Minister for New Energies Dr Farooq Abdullah for sanctioning wind energy projects in Himachal Pradesh. We are serious on tapping solar and wind energy potential. Dr Abdullah is keen to support our efforts, said Dhumal.