In a decisive move to accomplish twin objective of safeguarding climate and tapping renewable energy resources to meet growing demands for power supply, the Narendra Modi Government, during its first three years of governance, has carried forward its commitment of Green Energy, initiating largest ever renewable energy production plans.
In tune with India’s Intended Nationally Determined contributions (INDC), submitted to the United Nations Frame work convention on Climate change, that India will achieve 40% cumulative Electric power capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030 with the help of transfer of technology, Mega plans are being implemented in the Renewable Energy (RE) sector.
The initiatives will pave way for energy security while ensuring power supply in far flung rural swathes where grid supply is inaccessible.
Presently, per capita electricity consumption is only one fifth of the world average. Putting rationale behind thrust on the RE sector, the MNRE officials say the country’s present consumption is about 1150 BU and it should reach 1570 BU by 2022. “Even with our ambitious goal of 175 GW renewable power, out of additional requirement of 420 BU, solar will add about 140 BU and Wind around 60 BU, thus 220 BU will be required from conventional power projects.”
India has an estimated renewable energy potential of about 900 GW from commercially exploitable sources viz. Wind – 102 GW (at 80 meter mast height); Small Hydro – 20 GW; Bio-energy – 25 GW; and 750 GW solar power, assuming 3% wasteland.
Recently, Record low solar and wind power tariffs in latest biddings have added another positive dimension to the sector. Bidders quoted a price of Rs.3.46 per kWh for 1 GW wind tender and Rs.2.97 per kWh for setting up of 750 MW solar power plant in Rewa. It made wind and solar competitive energy source. Lower clean energy tariffs will pose major challenge to fossil fired power. Experts say if power evacuation is ensured, developers may lower tariffs further.
Encouraged by RE sector’s big strides, Southern state of Andhra Pradesh, according to sources, may soon start Solar farming under which farmers will replace existing pump sets with wind energy pumps, and surplus power will be evacuated to grid for additional income.
Sources indicate Plans are being mooted to tap hydro power in big way by lacing the sector with incentives like bringing all hydro projects under the ambit of RE scheme against existing benchmark of considering hydro projects of 25 MW only under the sector.
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has set another record in the wind power capacity addition by adding over 5400 MW in 2016-2017 against the target of 4000 MW. This year’s achievement surpassed the higher capacity addition of 3.423 MW achieved in the previous year.
Now, the Government has also approved the enhancement of capacity from 20,000 MW to 40,000 MW of the Scheme for Development of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects. The enhanced capacity would ensure setting up of at least 50 solar parks each with a capacity of 500 MW and above. Smaller parks in Himalayan and other hilly States where contiguous land may be difficult to acquire in view of the difficult terrain, will also be considered under the scheme.
Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects will be set up by 2019-20 with Centre’s financial support of Rs.8100 crore. The total capacity when operational will generate 64 billion units of electricity per year which will lead to abatement of around 55 million tons of CO2 per annum during its life cycle.
A total of 852 projects (based on Solar PV) have been operational under Decentralized Distributed Generation (DDG) of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY}. The MNRE is already implementing a scheme for development of at least 25 solar parks with an aggregate capacity of 20,000 MW, which was launched in December 2014. More than 34 solar parks of aggregate capacity 20,000 MW have been approved which are at various stages of development.
According to Latest statistics, under the scheme of setting up of 1000 MW Grid connected Solar PV power projects by CPSUS and Government organization with VGF( Viability Gap Funding), Total VGF of Rs.450.55 cr has been released so far. Rs.90 Cr will be released soon to take total release to 549.55 cr.
Of the total sanctioned capacity of 1037.26 MW to 15 CPSUs/ Government organization within sanctioned funds of Rs.1000 crore for the scheme, solar projects of 441.50 capacity have already been commissioned so far.
Implementing Pilot projects for development of grid connected solar PV power plants on canal banks and canal tops, 50 MW canal tops and 50 MW canal bank solar PV projects have been allotted to eight states. Three MW canal top SPV power project and 16 MW canal bank projects have been commissioned till February, this year.
The Government has set a target of 175 GW renewable power installed capacity by the end of 2022. This includes 60 GW from wind power, 100 GW from solar power, 10 GW from biomass power and 5 GW from small hydro power.
A target of 16660 MW grid renewable power (wind 4000 MW, solar 12000 MW, small hydro power 250 MW, bio-power 400 MW and waste to power 10 MW), has been set for 2016-17. Besides, under off-grid renewable system, targets of 15 MW eq. waste to energy, 60 MW eq. biomass non-bagasse cogeneration, 10 MW eq. biomass gasifiers, 1.0 MW eq. small wind/hybrid systems, 100 MW eq. solar photovoltaic systems, 1.0 MW eq. micro hydel and 100,000 nos.
The Biomass Cook stove division of MNRE, under the Unnat Chullha Abhiyan (UCA) is also providing improved stoves kitchens of Midday (MDM) scheme, Forest rest houses, families in rural areas, Dhabas, units etc.
The Biogas Technology development division, installed 84,882 of biogas plants during 2014-15 and 74,705 plants in 2015-16 and 47,304 in 2016-17 so far. There are as many 49.5 lakh Biogas plants are there in the country. Officials say total estimated Biogas generation is about 4 lakh cubic meters per day, replacing annually estimated 44.10 lakh numbers of LPG cylinders of domestic size.
A Rs.38,000 crore Green Energy Corridor is being set up to ensure evacuation of Renewable Energy.
Many other parallel initiatives were also taken. These include: amendments in the Tariff Policy for strong enforcement of Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO), for providing Renewable Generation Obligation (RGO); provision of roof top solar and 10 percent renewable energy as mandatory under Mission Statement and Guidelines for development of smart cities; amendments in building bye-laws for mandatory provision of roof top solar for new construction or higher FAR; raising tax free solar bonds; making roof top solar a part of housing loan, ;compulsory net-metering; raising funds from bilateral and international donors,creation of Surya Mitras for installation and maintenance of the Solar Projects.
*Author is a former editor of the United News of India. Widely travelled journalist, he has covered many national and international events during his 30 years career and was also the member of the Press Council of India.
Views expressed in the article are author’s personal.