Coal India on track to develop 1GW of solar

The world’s largest coal producer is forging ahead with the first two phases of its plan to roll out solar plants across the country.

State-owned miner Coal India is working on developing an 800MW portfolio of solar projects in four states as part of its plan to bring 1GW of renewable power plants into operation by 2019. 

“In the first phase, Coal India is going to set up two 100MW solar power plants in the state of Madhya Pradesh. In the second phase, the company is going to develop a capacity of 600MW in the solar parks of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Maharashtra for which tenders have already been floated by Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI),” Coal India said. 

This June, the group signed two agreements with SECI, a state entity created to promote solar power development in India, to jointly develop the plan’s first phase in a bid to diversify its business away from hydrocarbons. 

Coal India’s two subsidiaries, Northern Coalfields and South Eastern Coalfields, will be responsible for implementing the first phase at an estimated cost of INR6.5 billion ($98 million; € 87 million) for each 100MW project. 

Last year, a number of Indian state-owned enterprises announced plans to diversify into renewables, including NTPC, Neyveli Lignite Corporation, Indian Railways and National Hydro Power Corp, in addition to Coal India.

The Modi government aims to develop 100GW of solar by 2022. About 8GW of solar have so far been installed. 

Financial investors such as Dubai’s Abraaj Group, Japan’s Orix and India’s IDFC Alternatives are eyeing green opportunities in the country while renewables specialists including Canada’s SkyPower and Singapore’s Equis have also set sights on the sector.