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Indias renewable targets difficult to reach

Financing, land-acquisition and lack of proper policies are among challenges to India’s ambitious renewable energy projects, the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) run by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), early February, heard.

India has begun rolling out widely acclaimed plans to add 100,000 megawatts of solar energy and 60,000 megawatts of wind energy to its energy mix by year 2022, but scientists and stakeholders attending a DSDS session on 7 February were sceptical that these targets would be met.

“Public sector banks find it difficult to lend money to the projects since their money is stuck in thermal projects,” said Raghunath Mahapatra, vice-president, Welspun Energy. As for private sector banks they find technologies for solar power evolving too rapidly, causing risk-perception to be high, he said.

“There is no database. We don’t know where the roofs are. We don’t have any policy or laws on rooftop solar energy. Roof rights, maintenance of roofs and access rights are not defined by the law. Given such confusion, it will take years, not months, for an agreement to be signed,” Mahapatra said.

Some 40,000 megawatts are slated to be generated using rooftop solar units.

Regarding the land-based projects, he said that apart from land acquisition there were issues like evacuation of energy as state-level policies are not aligned with those of the central government. “There is a lot of confusion on policies. For example, it is not clear whether agricultural land can be used for solar energy,” he said.

Those interested in harnessing wind power face similar problems. Mahesh Vipradas of Suzlon Energy said there is a need to develop soft technologies for the accurate forecasting of wind and also grid infrastructure in the states to evacuate generated power.

K. S. Popli, chief of the public sector Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency, was confident that such issues could be resolved. “We are having constant meetings with multilateral and bilateral agencies like the World Bank and ADB. And I think we have eight years; we will keep solving the problems.”

Leena Srivastava, member of the International Advisory Panel, Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute and member of the UN Secretary General’s high level group on Sustainable Energy for All, said the discussions indicated that unless remedial action is taken solar and wind energy targets could be missed.

Noting the difference in confidence during the discussion, Srivastava said they need to be addressed promptly if the targets are to be achieved.

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