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 24-September -2012






Electricity is one of the prime requirements for any country to develop. Without it, infrastructural bottlenecks accentuate, causing hurdles in growth across the board. Industries, Agriculture, services and in fact every walk of life need electricity to move forward. With this in view, India has been making all efforts to generate as much electricity as possible from different sources. These include Hydro, thermal, nuclear and even non conventional sources like solar and wind energy.

The country is facing acute power shortage and its per capita consumption is one of the lowest. 75 % of the electricity is generated by burning coal and natural gas. If we continue to bank on our coal reserves so heavily these are estimated to last just for another 40 years. Besides, burning of coal raises environmental issues which should be avoided to the extent we can. Twin challenges of power and clean environment have to be met squarely.

It is in this backdrop that the government of India has made energy generation through non-conventional sources one of its top priorities. Creation of a separate Ministry of new and renewable energy is a testimony to this effort.  Because of these efforts generation from renewable sources of energy has trebled since 2005 from 5 to 15 GW. By 2022 it should reach 40 GW. According to an estimate, Potential of power generation through renewable sources of energy in the country is 150 GW. A lot more needs to be done therefore.

As of now, electricity generation from renewable sources of energy is only 3.5%. It is likely to increase to 10% by 2022.

 Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, launched on the 11th January, 2010 by the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh is a major initiative in the field of giving a boost to utilisation of non-conventional sources of energy. The Mission has set the ambitious target of deploying 20,000 MW of grid connected solar power by 2022 . It is aimed at reducing the cost of solar power generation in the country through long term policy; large scale deployment goals; aggressive R&D; and domestic production of critical raw materials, components and products. The  Mission will create an enabling policy framework to achieve this objective and make India a global leader in solar energy.

The 11th Five Year Plan witnessed an impressive progress in research and development and deployment in renewable energy sector. Ministry of new and renewable energy has sponsored 169 R&D projects in the area of solar energy, bio-energy and hydrogen and fuel cells with a total outlay of about Rs.525 crore. Renewables contributed to nearly 14,660 MW power during the 11th Plan and they will become more important in future.

The Ministry is providing subsidy of 30% of the benchmark cost  of the solar photovoltaic (SPV) systems. It is also providing subsidy  for installing solar lanterns, home lights and small capacity PV plants  through NABARD, Regional Rural Banks and other Commercial Banks.  Banks also extend credit facility to the beneficiaries at usual commercial rates to meet the rest of the cost. Upto 31st March, 2012 over nine lakh five thousand  solar lanterns,  eight lakh sixty two thousand  solar home lights and about eight thousand  solar water pumping systems have been installed in the country. During 2011-12, the  Ministry sanctioned a project for installation of standalone SPV power plants aggregating to 8740 kWp capacity in 4115 schools and 9 examination centers. During the current financial year,  a project for installation of 560 SPV water pumping systems in six districts of Bihar has been sanctioned. A Plan has also been prepared for increased exploitation of various renewable energy sources in the country during the 12th Plan .

The 12th Plan proposals envisage 29,800 MW grid-interactive and 3267 MW off-grid power generation capacity addition from various renewable energy sources and deployment of 7 lakh biogas plants, 35 lakh cook stoves, 8.5 lakh solar cookers and 80.5 lakh solar thermal energy systems in the country .  Twenty  million solar lighting systems and 20 million sq. solar thermal collector area is envisaged by 2022.

Efforts are also on to promote wind power through private sector investment by providing fiscal and promotional incentives such as concessional import duty on certain components of wind electric generators and  excise duty exemption to manufacturers. 10 years tax holiday on income generated from wind power projects is also available.  Besides, loans for installing windmills are available from Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) and other Financial Institutions. Technical support  is provided by the Centre for Wind Energy Technology (C-WET), Chennai.  The Government had announced a Generation Based Incentive (GBI) during 11th Plan period. Efforts are being made to continue the GBI scheme in 12th Plan.

National Tariff Policy was amended mandating State discoms to have a solar RPO of 0.25% by 2013 reaching  3% by 2022. The Government has already implemented a scheme to procure 1000 MW of solar power and supplying it to State discoms after bundling with equivalent capacity of thermal power.

Even generation of power from garbage and municipal solid waste is also being given due attention. The 16 megawatt project installed at Okhla in New Delhi is the only such project in operation in the country. The project, commissioned in May this year, has so far generated about 24 million units (kWh) of electricity. Projects on energy from municipal solid wastes (MSW) are being taken up by the Municipal Corporations in public private partnership mode by tying up with selected private companies.

The need to  tap new and renewable sources of energy to meet energy requirements of the country  and protect the environment from greenhouse gases can hardly be overemphasised. Fortunately, there is abundance of solar energy available in most parts of the country. Ladakh, for instance has bright sunshine for 300 out of 360 days a year. No wonder it is one of the focus areas of the ministry in exploiting solar energy. What matters is to tap it for electricity generation or for other useful purposes. To make it affordable and cost effective, sincere efforts have to be made and suitable policies formulated. A total of around 1000 MW capacity solar power plants have been installed in the country in last two years and if this trend continues, the country will indeed achieve the target of 20000 MW by 2022. Alongside, due attention has to be paid to provide quality product and service  to develop confidence among  the users.

(PIB Feature.)



*The author is a Freelance Writer.

Disclaimer:  The views expressed by the author in this article are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of PIB.


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