The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will lend US$103mn to Reliance Power Ltd. to help finance a solar plant in Rajasthan state that will power homes and businesses in India and help bring the country closer to its ambitious solar power generation goals.
The plant will be one of the largest solar plants in India, and the loan marks ADB’s first-ever financing for a concentrating solar power project.
"This 100-megawatt plant will help meet growing energy demand in India, in a way that avoids emission of harmful greenhouse gases," said Michael Barrow, Director in ADB's Private Sector Operations Department. "We hope that the success of this project will spur others to invest in the solar energy sector, which has massive potential in India."
Barrow was speaking at the fourth Asia Solar Energy Forum that is gathering public and private sector experts, investors, and companies in Jodhpur in the Rajasthan state in India.
Under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (NSM) – an initiative unveiled by the Government of India in January 2010 – India aims to have two gigawatts of installed solar power generation capacity by 2013, 10 gigawatts by 2017, and 20 gigawatts by 2022.
Reliance Power was one of the successful bidders to develop 470 megawatts of concentrating solar power capacity under the first phase of the NSM. The plant will be located near the village of Dhursar in the Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan, 180 kilometers west of the city of Jodhpur. The site has one of the highest levels of direct sunlight in the country.
The plant will avoid more than 250,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year, compared to the energy produced by a conventional fossil fuel plant. The project will share a transmission line with the adjacent Dahanu solar power plant, a 40-megawatt solar photovoltaic plant also partly financed by ADB.
Concentrating solar power captures solar energy to convert water into steam, which in turn drives a steam turbine to produce energy. Photovoltaic plants convert sunlight into electricity through solar panels using semiconductors.
The plant, which is expected to be completed in May 2013, will cost around $415 million to build. As well as ADB's loan, other bilateral agencies and local commercial lenders will provide funds. It will be the first thermal solar energy plant built by Reliance Power, a listed company of the Reliance ADA Group.
ADB is supporting the development of solar energy in developing Asia as part of its goal of promoting environmentally sustainable economic growth. Under its Asia Solar Energy Initiative, announced in May 2010, ADB aims to commission or support 3,000 megawatts of solar power capacity in developing member countries by May 2013.