The first EPZ (Export Processing Zone) in Asia was setup in 1965, in Kandla, Gujarat. Since then, over 170 SEZs (Special EconomicZones) have been set up in the country, contributing to billions of dollars ofexport earnings and creating close to a million jobs. The objectives of setting up SEZs remain broadly the same:  to generate more economic activity, export earnings, job opportunities and foreign investments.  With over 600 more SEZs approved by the Government, this sector is poised for enormous growth in the coming years.

The intensive energy needs of SEZs form a strong challenge for the Government, as high service levels have to be maintained in terms of energy availability, balanced with the Government’s obligation to continue to provide power for residential, institutional and commercial
consumers in the domestic tariff areas, i.e. outside the SEZs. To address the objectives of sustainability as well as lesser energy dependence of SEZs, in
2009, the Government established draft guidelines for “Green Special Economic Zones”. The Guidelines stated that at least 25% of the external lighting load should be solar powered and that each SEZ has to install a solar power system to generate a minimum of 50 kilowatt per hectare The plan never came into effect and was shelved two years later.

In these circumstances, it is indeed an excellent and most heartening development that a leading SEZ has proactively made the decision to install a massive captive solar PV power plant to provide clean energy to its occupants.

Shriram Gateway, a 58 acre SEZ project at Chennai with 6 million sq.ft. of IT/ITES SEZ offices and about 2.5 million
sq.ft. of residential development, has commissioned a 700 KWp solar PV power plant, designed and implemented by U-Solar Clean Energy Solutions using the Build Own Operate and Transfer (BOOT) model.  To avoid the steep initial cost of installing such a huge rooftop solar power plant, the SEZ has signed long term PPAs (15 to 25 years) with different third party energy companies. The plant has been installed with solar modules from different manufacturers likeWaree Energies ltd, Shan Solar & CNPV Power SA along with grid-connected inverters from SMA  & DELTA.

The 700 kW system has been installed on six block (A1, A6, B1, B6, B4 & B5). The first 400 kW was commissioned on A1, A6, B1 & B6 in October 2014 and the latest 300 kW installation has been commissioned on Building B4 & B5 in March 2015. The SEZs pay a monthly bill to the energy companies for the metered solar power. The following model offers no high upfront capital expenditure, maintenance and operations are the responsibility of the EPC, unit price of solar is below grid price and the power plant is transferred after the duration of PPA. Apart from this, the rooftop solar PV system helps reduce vast diesel consumption from generators as well as power consumption from the grid for operation of the facility.

With clients like Accenture, Mahindra Satyam, Mobius, Sybrant, Redington, Take and Trianz now poised to run integral parts of their global operations from Shriram Gateway using clean solar energy, it is indeed an important milestone in the growth story of SEZs in India.

Congratulations to Shriram Gateway for becoming India’s first green SEZ, and giving the nation a green golden jubilee for the EPZ-SEZ initiative!

We at U-Solar are proud to be part of this important milestone. Go Solar!!

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