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NEW DELHI : The ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) will review the status of solar parks where developers have failed to make significant progress and may even cancel their allocations, two officials aware of the development said.

The review comes at a time several solar parks in the country are still to be commissioned despite the fact that several years have passed since their allocation by the government to developers. According to the latest data from the MNRE furnished in the Parliament, as of 30 June, a total of 61 solar parks with 40GW capacity were approved under the scheme ‘Development of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects’, out of which only 10GW has been commissioned. “The government may review the parks which have not done very well... and also look at whether we want to cancel those to free up capacities," one of the two officials said, requesting anonymity.

Individual solar projects of smaller capacity incur significant expenses in site development, drawing separate transmission lines to the nearest substation, procuring water and the creation of other necessary infrastructure. It also requires significant time, while solar parks come in a plug-and-play model wherein land and related infrastructure is already provided. Such parks are also exempted from environmental impact assessment.

The solar parks are developed in collaboration with state governments and their agencies, central public sector enterprises and private entrepreneurs. The implementing agency is termed Solar Power Park Developer (SPPD). There are several modes to select the implementing agency.

According to data provided in a written reply by the minister for new and renewable energy R.K. Singh recently in the Lok Sabha, the 61 sanctioned solar parks are spread across 16 states, with Rajasthan having the highest number of 10 solar parks sanctioned with a total capacity of 7.036 GW. Capacity-wise, Gujarat is in the lead in terms of sanctions and has seven parks with a capacity of 12.025GW that have been sanctioned in the state. The commissioned capacity in Rajasthan and Gujarat stands at 2.901GW and 785MW. Other key states with large sanctioned capacities of solar parks are Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh, at 6.08GW, 4.2GW, and 3.805GW, respectively. The commissioned capacity in the three states as of 30 June was 1GW, 3.050GW, and 165MW, respectively.

The proposed review of solar parks comes at a time the parliamentary standing committee on energy has expressed disappointment over the slow progress of solar parks, as only eight were developed during 2015-2020, against the target of over 50 solar parks by 2022.

Queries sent to the ministry of new and renewable energy remained unanswered till press time.

In its reply to the panel’s recommendations and observations, the ministry said that it is making concerted efforts to achieve the target of completion of solar parks with an aggregate capacity of 40GW by 2023-24, showed the 28th report of the house panel on the action taken by the government over the suggestions made by the panel.

“The ministry is making concerted efforts to achieve the target of completion of solar parks of aggregate capacity 40 GW by 2023-24," MNRE said in its reply, adding that it has also introduced a new mode of implementation under the solar park scheme with a provision to incentivize states. State-run companies and state government agencies are actively involved and are developing parks under a new mode, it said.

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