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India invites investment to develop biomass solar hybrid power plants

India Ministry of New and Renewable Energy invites assistance for establishment of hybrid biomass and solar thermal plants

Termosolar Borges, the world’s first biomass CSP solar hybrid power plant in Spain, started operating in 2012

Investors in India are invited to submit proposals for a government project on building plants based on hybrid biomass and solar thermal technology. The initiative is connected to the government's project of eliminating barriers to accelerate the adoption of environmentally-sustainable biomass power technologies through increasing access to financing, according to a report by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) in India.

The capacity of the hybrid biomass solar power plants may be in the range of 2MW to 10MW, depending on the technology or location. The aim of the project primarily is to create new investment in the country and also to assist project developers through financial assistance under the biomass and solar programmes of the Ministry. Proposals are welcome until 12 July 2013.

The MNRE said: "The aim of providing such technical assistance is to assist project developers in faster development of commercially viable projects following the provisions in the existing guidelines for financial assistance under biomass and solar programmes of the Ministry and also to create new investment opportunity in the country."

The renewable energy news from the MNRE follows a push to boost biomass power in India last year. Renewable Energy Technology reported in March 2012 that contracts had been signed to generate almost 100MW of bioenergy in India.

Hybrid renewable energy growth

The MNRE said the growing popularity of hybrid renewable energy power plants is visible globally, due to their many advantages. Power shortages are a major issue in India, where fossil fuel powered plants suffer from supply shortages. Hybrid renewable energy power plants can be the key to the problem, combining different renewable power sources to ensure continuous operation.

The most cost-efficient hybrid renewable power plants for India are those combining biomass and solar energy. Due to the tropical conditions with rain showers blocking sunlight from solar-only plants and the supply shortages from drought conditions for biomass-only plants, a hybrid power plant is a solution to the problem. In comparison to none-renewable power, the energy costs of these hybrid plants are higher, but still competitive compared to other renewables, such as photovoltaic power or wind.

Hybrid biomass solar power plants will become an increasingly attractive option for investors as the cost of concentrated solar power technology (CSP) falls and fossil fuel prices continue to rise. The Indian government is also in favour of subsidising renewable energy technology, particularly solar, as opposed to conventional energy sources, according to the MNRE energy strategy for 2011 to 2017.

The world's first biomass CSP solar hybrid power plant, Termosolar Borges, started operating in December 2012 in Spain.