Soon after Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Power project was dedicated to the nation, Congress targeted the Union government with a controversy. Many communications regarding the Rewa power project have claimed that it is “Asia’s largest single-site power plant”. The contention of the Congress is, since there is already a 2,050 MW Solar Park operationalised in Karnataka and Rajasthan has a 2,245 MW Solar Park at Bhadla, how come the 750 MW plant of Madhya Pradesh hailed as the ‘largest’?
The answer lies in the difference between single-site power plant and Solar Park.
Single-site Plant vs Park
When the recently inaugurated Madhya Pradesh plant claims to be ‘largest’, it is in terms of a single entity. In comparison, Solar Parks in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh do add higher units of energy but they are not a single-unit.
In Solar Park, the State government typically facilitates land and other basic amenities for the energy companies to set up their units in a one large space. Mainly, the land acquisition part is taken care of by the State government. See the list of companies involved in power generation in Karnataka’s Pavagada to understand the picture. An energy-related site Mercom India provided the list in its article.
You can compare this with the structure of Rewa Solar Plant. Here, the site was developed by the Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Limited (RUMSL), a Joint Venture Company of Madhya Pradesh Urja Vikas Nigam Limited (MPUVN), and Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), a Central Public Sector Undertaking.
Of course, here too is an opportunity for private players to come in but it is through reverse auction and providing the service on a Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) basis in which sellers bid for the prices at which they are willing to sell their service. The ultimate owner of the project is RUMSL.
Thus, it is not just the role of facilitating other companies under one park, but single-site is under PSU’s terms and condition.
So, what did the Rewa project achieve which the other Solar Parks couldn’t?
The answer perhaps lies in the slashing of prices, since the one unit decides the tariff, unlike in the instance of other power companies in Solar Parks, who are free to decide their price.
The Rewa Solar Project is credited with breaking the grid parity barrier in the country. Compared to prevailing solar project tariffs of approx. ₹4.50/unit in early 2017, the Rewa project achieved historic results: a first-year tariff of ₹2.97/unit with a tariff escalation of ₹0.05/unit over 15 years and a levelized rate of ₹3.30/unit over the term of 25 years.
In a nutshell, the other Solar parks are conglomeration of multiple solar power plants at a single site. Rewa project is a single unit power plant. Thus, Rewa Solar plant is indeed the “largest single-unit” solar power plant.