Astonfield Plans to set up photovoltaic plant in Andhra

Financial Express 2009-11-28

Astonfield Renewable Resources Ltd (ARRL) has firmed up plans to set up a 250 MW solar photovoltaic power plant in Andhra Pradesh. The US-based renewable major is also poised to start operation of a 5 MW solar PV plant in West Bengal.

Sourabh Sen, Co-Chairman and Director, said the Andhra Pradesh government has already allotted 600 acre at Solar City Industrial Park in Anantapur and this has given Astonfield a big push in achieving its target of generating 700 MW of green energy, two-thirds of which will be from solar PV.

Astonfield plans to invest $2 billion in the green energy sector over a period of five years.

For the 5 MW solar PV project in Bankura, which was a Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) approval, construction work is in full swing. "We expect the plant o be commissioned by January 2010", Sen said. "The 5 MW Bankura plant will so far be the country’s largest solar power plant," he added.

So far, the country’s largest solar power plant is of 2 MW at Asansol in West Bengal, set up by the West Bengal Green Energy Development Corporation Ltd (WBGEDCL) at a cost of Rs 40 crore. The Power Finance Corporation funded a bulk of it.

However, Sen said that the Bankura plant would cost Rs 90-100 crore and the West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company has already entered into a power purchase agreement with Astonfield.

For the project in Andhra Pradesh, the company has earmarked an investment above Rs 5,000 crore and funding would be through a mix of debt and equity.

Officials said that Astonfield has tie-ups with a number of foreign banks but so far it has not tied up with any of the Indian banks, although the company has opened dialogues with a number of Indian banks.

"Once our 5 MW Bankura project becomes operational, we will be able to tie up with Indian banks too," an Astonfield official said.