State-owned companies in India are looking to participate in the aggressive renewable energy investment drive currently being led by the private sector companies.
India’s publicly-owned lignite mining and power generation company Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) has announced plan to set up 4,000 MW of solar projects across various states of India. The project would entail an investment of up to $4.6 billion. The proposed projects would be set up in the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana and Rajasthan.
This announcement was made by B Surender Mohan, Chairman and Managing Director of Neyveli Lignite, at the time of inaugurating the company’s first 10 MW solar power plant under the National Solar Mission. Additionally, land has been identified in Neyveli Township for the installation of a 130 MW solar power project. Also, a decision has been made to set up a 25 MW solar power project at Barsingsar, Rajasthan, at a cost of $26 million. The company has been slowly increasing its renewable energy portfolio.
This is not the first time Neyveli Lignite has announced plans to set up solar power projects. In April of this year, the company announced plans to build 600MW of solar power projects, and the company intends to actively participate in the solar power auctions announced by the various state governments. The techno-economic viability studies and land allocation is believed to be underway for setting up of the projects.
The company is also building 51 MW wind farm at Kazhuneerkulam Village of Tirunelveli District. Out of a total of 34 turbines of 1.5MW capacity each, 9 wind turbines have already been commissioned, and the wind farm is expected to be fully operational by the end of this year.
Coal mining companies are under pressure from various environmental groups to source their coal in a more environment-friendly way to reduce their overall carbon footprint. Investing in renewable energy would help coal companies to fulfill their corporate social responsibility obligations. Last year, the world’s largest coal producer, Coal India Limited, made a similar announcement to develop 1 GW of solar projects across various states.
Last year, India doubled the tax on every metric ton of coal mined or imported in the country. The revenue generated from the coal tax would finance the National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF), which would be utilized for the development of renewable energy projects, environmental projects, and research and development projects.