Renewable Energy

Overview of Renewable Energy in India

Energy is the prime mover of all the development process. With the advent of globalization, development process is finally ignited. India is now the eleventh largest economy in the world, fourth in terms of purchasing power. It is poised to make tremendous economic strides over next ten years, with significant economic development already in planning stage. This development is going to accelerate the demand of energy. With rapid rise in the price of fossil fuels and the anticipated shortage, there is a need to develop some sustainable resource. Renewable sources are perennial in nature and hence can be relied upon for sustainable development. Fortunately, India is blessed with a variety of Renewable Energy sources, the main ones being biomass, biogas, solar, wind, and small hydro power. Municipal and industrial wastes can also be useful sources of energy, but are basically different forms of biomass. 

Background
In the past century, it has been seen that the consumption of non-renewable sources of energy has caused more environmental damage than any other human activity. Electricity generated from fossil fuels such as coal and crude oil has led to high concentrations of harmful gases in the atmosphere. This has in turn led to many problems being faced today such as ozone depletion and global warming. Therefore, renewable sources of energy have become very important and relevant to today's world. They cause less emissions and cannot be exhausted. Their use can, to a large extent, reduce chemical, radioactive, and thermal pollution. They stand out as a viable source of clean and limitless energy. These are also known as non-conventional sources of energy. Most of the renewable sources of energy are fairly non-polluting and considered clean though biomass, a renewable source, is a major polluter indoors. Renewable energy technologies vary widely in their technical and economic maturity, but their common feature is that they produce little or no greenhouse gas, and rely on virtually inexhaustible natural sources.

Ministry of New & Renewable Energy has allotted 185 grid connected solar power plants of 1172 MW aggregate capacity under different schemes during the last three years. Of these, 132 power plants of about 369 MW. Aggregate capacity have been commissioned up to 31.01.2013. These include 1 solar thermal power plant of capacity 2.5 MW and 131 solar PV plants of 366 MW aggregate capacity. In case of the commissioned solar PV plants (131 nos./366 MW), 65 nos./130 MW are using indigenous solar cells / modules technologies. All solar thermal power plants (10 nos./500 MW) are based on foreign technologies. The average bidded tariff for solar PV plants selected under JNNSM Phase-I is Rs. 12.16 per unit for Batch-I projects and Rs. 8.77 per unit for Batch-II projects and that for solar thermal plants is Rs. 11.48 per unit.

India has the distinction of being the only country in the world to have an exclusive Ministry dealing with new and Renewable Energy sources. During the last two and a half decades there had been a vigorous pursuit of activities relating to the research, development, trial and induction of a variety of Renewable Energy technologies for use in different sectors.

The Electricity Act 2003 contains several provisions to promote the accelerated development of power generation from non- conventional sources. It provides that co- generation and generation of electricity for renewable sources would be promoted by the SERCs by providing suitable measures for connectivity with grid and sale of electricity to any person and also by specifying, for purchase of electricity for such sources, a %age of the total consumption of electricity in the area of a distribution licensee.

There has been a growing awareness of the benefits of Renewable Energy, mainly on account of sustained public awareness generation campaigns. an outlay was provided under the X plan to provide electrification to around 25,000 remote un-electrified villages and hamlets by 2007. The government has set a target of installing 15% of the additional power generation capacity in the country through grid-interactive renewable power by 2012. The present grid connected renewable energy based installed capacity is 24,503.45 MW whereas off-grid installed capacity is 671.50 MWeq as on January 31, 2012.

Efforts are being made to reduce the capital cost of projects based on non-conventional and renewable sources of energy, by promoting competition within such projects and at the same time, taking adequate promotional measures for development of technologies and a sustained growth of these sources. The efforts to increase the share of renewables in the total power generation capacity of India have yielded results. The share has been continually rising. Renewables contribute about 24,503 MW as on March 31, 2012, which represents around 12.27% of the total installed capacity. Also, the renewable power generation capacity established so far has largely come about through private investments. 

Wind Energy

Amongst the different Renewable Energy sources, wind energy is making a significant contribution to the grid power installed capacity of India, and is emerging as a competitive option. Wind power capacity of 2023 MW has been added during 2011-12 (up to January 31, 2012) taking the cumulative capacity to 16179 MW, the fifth largest wind power installed capacity in the world after USA, Germany, Spain and China in wind power generation. Most of the wind energy based projects are located in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat. 

Promotional Policies

There are well defined policies both at the central and state level. The main features of these are listed below. 

Central Government

  • Import duty concession on specified wind turbine parts
  • Customs and excise duty relief
  • Loans through IREDA
  • Tax holiday for power generation projects 

State Government

  • Fiscal and financial incentives
  • Wheeling, banking, third party sale, buy-back facility by State Electricity Boards (SEBs)
  • Capital subsidies and sales tax incentives in certain states
  • Soft loans from the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Ltd. (IREDA) 

Also different states have come up with their own wind policies. 

Small Hydro Power

Among the various renewable sources of energy, small hydro is significant in the form of decentralized power generation, even in hilly regions where the terrain is difficult for promotion of other energy sources. All projects between 3 MW and 25 MW are considered as Small Hydro Projects. SHP essentially harnesses the energy from flowing or falling water from rivers, rivulets, artificially created storage dams or canal drops.

SHP technology was first introduced in the year 1837, in Darjeeling. The power that can be generated through a SHP project depends on two important technical parameters - available head and the speed of water flow. Based on the two parameters, the type of turbine is decided which can be Pelton (above 200m), Francis (30-200 m) and Kaplan (upto 30 m). The projects can also be classified depending on the location of project as Run-of-River, Canal fall based, Dam toe based.

The small hydro power (SHP) sector (upto 25 MW station capacity) is moving towards attaining commercial status in India. SHP projects are increasingly becoming economically viable. It has been recognized that SHP can play a role in improving the energy position in some parts of India and in particular in remote and inaccessible areas. The gestation period and capital investments are getting reduced in SHP projects. While small water streams are being tapped in the hilly areas, canal drops are being exploited for generation of power in the plain areas. 

Potential

The potential from small hydropower projects of up to 25 MW station capacity is estimated at about 15,000 MW. A database has been created for most potential sites by collecting information from various sources and the State Governments. The MNRE has a database of 5,415 potential sites with an aggregate capacity of 14,305.47 MW. As a part of the UNDP- GEF Hilly Hydro Project, a detailed exercise was undertaken to prepare zonal plans for 13 participating states of the Himalayan and sub-Himalayan region as a result of which 2162 potential sites aggregating 3827 MW have been identified. A Master Plan has been prepared for the participating states to identify SHP potential in a systematic manner and state-wise strategies.

The Ministry is providing financial support to the States for identification of new potential sites and preparation of a perspective plan for the State for development of small hydro. This activity is important from the point of view of making an over all strategy for systematic development of SHP projects in the long term. The Ministry is in the process of augmenting Renewable Energy resource database and bringing it on a GIS platform. Survey of India, Indian Meteorological Department and National Remote Sensing Agency have been providing digitized data for the country including topographical maps, land use maps, time series data on precipitation, rainfall etc. A hydrological modeling for Beas basin in Himachal Pradesh has been completed which has identified all potential hydro sites including estimated discharge data and power potential. This activity is proposed to be extended for the entire country.

As there is still an unidentified potential of about 5000 MW in India, a new scheme for providing financial support to States for the identification of new potential sites and the preparation of a perspective plan for SHP development has been introduced. Financial support upto INR 30 lakhs will be provided for the estimation of the SHP potential in a State, identification of new potential SHP sites and for the preparation of a perspective plan. Provision of incentives for Detailed Survey and Investigation (DSI) & Detailed Project Report (DPR) preparation was continued under a merged and rationalized scheme. Financial support is being provided up to INR 5 lakhs for DPR preparation including survey. The State Governments have been advised to undertake these items of work in order to prepare a shelf of SHP Projects. Survey & investigation and preparation of DPRs of 363 potential sites under this scheme has been supported by MNRE.

 Promotion

MNRE provides incentives for:

  • For detailed project report (DPR) preparation: INR 1.25 lakh to INR 5 lakh per MW (Range: 10 MW to 25 MW)
  • Under special incentives for North east region and Sikkim, capital grant of INR 7.5 crore per MW is available for SHP projects. The maximum support per project is INR 22.5 crore.
  • Financial support for renovation, modernization and capacity upgrading of old SHP stations to the extent of INR 2.6 crore per MW or 75% of the R&M cost, whichever is lower.
  • Financial support for development/upgradation of water mills is provided upto INR30, 000/MW or 75% of project cost, in mechanical mode and INR1, 00,000 or 75% of project cost in electrical/electrical plus mechanical mode.
  • IREDA provides soft loans under MNRE for setting up of SHP projects upto 25MW capacity in the commercial sector.

 Solar Energy

The exploitation of solar energy has been one of the major programs. Solar energy, which is manifested in the form of heat and light, is harnessed through solar thermal and solar photovoltaic (SPV) routes for applications like cooking, water heating, drying farm produce, water pumping, home and street lighting, power generation for meeting decentralized requirements in villages, schools, hospitals, etc. In spite of the limitations of being a dilute source and intermittent in nature, solar energy has the potential for meeting and supplementing various energy requirements.

India, being a tropical country, is blessed with plenty of sunshine. The average daily solar radiation varies between 4 to 7 kWh per square meter for different parts of India. There are on an average 250 to 300 clear sunny days a year. Thus, it receives about 5,000 trillion kWh of solar energy in a year. It is environment friendly and is freely available locally. Keeping in mind the vast potential, the Jawahar Lal National Solar Mission (JNNSM) was launched in 2009. Due to the mission, the current solar capacity installed in the country has soared to over 500 MW (as on January 31, 2010).

 Potential

India receives solar energy equivalent to nearly 5,000 trillion kWh/year which is equivalent to 600 GW—far more than the country's total energy consumption today. But India produces solar energy in negligible amounts, a mere 0.2% of that from other energy resources. Further, the entire solar electricity generation is based on the solar photovoltaic (SPV technology. Power generation using solar thermal technology is still in the experimental stage. Currently, India has only 2.93 MW of grid-connected solar PV capacity. While India receives solar radiation of 5 to 7 kWh/m² 300 to 330 days in a year, power generation potential using SPV is about 20 MW/km² and that using solar thermal generation about 35 MW/km².

Solar Grid Program

As a result of development and deployment of PV technologies for more than two decades, a strong research infrastructure and a good manufacturing base for production of single and polycrystalline silicon solar cells/modules has been established in India, which ranks fifth in the world among the PV module manufacturing countries.
Although the cost of the technology is high, it has been gradually decreasing. Today, PV technology has become cost competitive to other technologies based on conventional energy for meeting power requirements of small load in remote areas. There is a need to bring down the cost of PV modules further so that PV technology becomes commercially viable.

Under the SPV Demonstration and Utilization Program grants in aid are given to the implementing organizations for providing subsidy to the users for purchase or installation of solar home systems, solar street lighting systems, stand alone power plants, building integrated photovoltaic etc. The program is being implemented through the State Nodal Agencies (SNAs), selected NGOs, central public sector undertakings and 'Aditya Solar Shops' in India. The solar home systems have been provided to all categories of individual users and non- commercial users. The power plants are designed to provide grid quality power with better reliability to a village/hamlet or institution etc.

The solar grid power program has two components- the thermal conversion technology and the photovoltaic technology. The Solar Photovoltaic technology converts sunlight into electricity without any pollution. The solar photovoltaic (SPV) program has resulted in significant technological developments for various applications.

Although India has a negligible quantum of installations as compared to its potential, it ranks 5th in solar PV installations and 9th in solar thermal application installations in the world. India has more than 50 module manufacturers. India also has a large number of integrators-cum-service providers (about 80) with total capacity of about 245 MW. India exports 160 MW of solar PV products to other developed and developing countries.

With regard to solar thermal application, India has more than 200 manufacturers of solar water heaters and 40 of solar cookers. Also, 5–6 manufacturers are involved in producing solar drying, cooking, process heat, and air-conditioning applications. It is expected that several players will enter solar thermal application development in the coming months. Recently, several companies such as Tata BP Solar, Signet Solar, and Moser Baer have announced multi-million-dollar plans for investment in solar cell manufacturing capacities in the country. With announcement of the semiconductor policy in March 2007, it is envisaged that several multinational companies will enter silicon manufacturing as well as solar cell manufacturing.

34 grid- interactive SPV power projects with an installed capacity of 2.8 MW have been installed and 6 more projects with an aggregate capacity of 400 KW are under installation. MNRE has supported demonstration projects involving grid interactive SPV power plants. Under this program, Central Financial Assistance (CFA) in the form of grants-in-aid and subsidies is being provided to beneficiaries- State Nodal Agencies (SNAs) and SEBs for resource assessment, feasibility studies, research and development and to design, install and operate Solar Photovoltaic Power Plants in grid interactive mode.

CFA of 2/3rds of the project cost, subject to a maximum of INR 1.2 crore for a 100 kWp system is being provided. For Special Category States i.e. North Eastern States including Sikkim, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal and un-electrified island regions the CFA is up to 90% of the project cost with maximum of Rs 1.62 crore per 100 kWp.

During the past few years, many organizations have started using the SPV systems for varied uses like power for rural telephones, railway signaling, low power transmitters, cathode protection, etc

One of the areas of Solar thermal technology is heating of water for domestic, commercial and industrial uses. India has been making and using solar water heaters for almost three decades. Solar water heating systems are becoming increasingly popular. Hotels, hostels, hospitals, and other large institutions & industries have gone in for these systems. Water heating systems with a total collector area of one million sq. m have so far been installed. State Governments have been advised to make necessary provisions in buildings to incorporate solar water heating systems.

When this solar heater replaces an electric geyser, it not only saves electricity but also reduces the peak load demands. Also a domestic water heater of 100 litres capacity can prevent emissions of 1.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.

Applications

Both solar photovoltaic as well as solar thermal technologies have several applications. These applications could be divided into two primary categories, namely grid-connected and off-grid. 

National Solar Mission

Under the National Plan of Climate Change, eight National Missions representing multi-pronged long term and integrated strategy for achieving key goals in the context of climate change have been proposed. National Solar Mission is one of them. The main objective of the Mission is to establish India as a global leader in solar energy through:

  • 20,000 MW of installed solar generation capacity by 2022 and 100,000 MW by 2030 or 10-12% of total power generation capacity estimated for that year
  • Solar power cost reduction to achieve grid tariff parity by 2022
  • Achieve parity with coal based thermal power generation by 2030
  • 4-5 GW of installed solar manufacturing capacity by 2017.

The three phase approach:

The Mission envisages three phases : First phase (2009-13) proposes to achieve rapid scale up to drive down costs, to spur domestic manufacturing and to validate the technological and economic viability of different solar applications. A number of measures supplementing the objectives have been spelt out in the document. The second phase (2013-17) shall endeavor to scale up various validated applications, mainly but not exclusively, grid-tied applications. Similarly, phase three (2017-2022) envisages rapid scale up across all validated applications with minimal or no subsidy. 

Biomass Energy and Cogeneration

The availability of biomass in India is estimated at about 540 million tons per year covering residues from agriculture, forestry, and plantations. Principal agricultural residues include rice husk, rice straw, bagasse, sugar cane tops and leaves, trash, groundnut shells, cotton stalks, mustard stalks, etc. It has been estimated that about 70- 75% of these wastes are used as fodder, as fuel for domestic cooking and for other economic purposes leaving behind 120- 150 million tons of usable agricultural residues per year which could be made available for power generation. By using these surplus agricultural residues, more than 16,000 MW of grid quality power can be generated with presently available technologies. In addition, about 5000 MW of power can be produced, if all the 550 sugar mills in the country switch over to modern techniques of co-generation. Thus, the country is considered to have a biomass power potential of about 21,000 MW.

To tap this potential, MNRE has been implementing biomass energy/ co- generation program for the last 10 years. The program aims at optimum utilization of biomass materials for power generation or for replacement of conventional fuels through adoption of efficient and state- of- the- art conversion technologies. The technologies being promoted include combustion/ gasification/ cogeneration, using gas/ steam turbines, dual fuel engines/ gas engines, or a combination thereof, either for generation of power alone, or for cogeneration of more than one energy form, for captive and/ or grid connected applications. The Program has two main components- a) Biomass Power/ Co-generation & b) Biomass gasification.

A few Regulatory Commissions have already come out with their formulations to promote arrangements between the co- generator and the concerned distribution licensee for purchase of power from such plants. Cogeneration system is being encouraged in a few states in the overall interest of energy efficiency and also grid stability. Notable initiatives include a biomass resource assessment program to bring out a Biomass Resource Atlas for India; facilitating fast track projects; new modes of implementation of projects in co- operative/ public sector sugar mills; and, technology development and demonstration of producer gas engines and advanced biomass gasification.

Biomass Gasification

Biomass Gasification process yields producer gas as a result of a thermo- chemical reaction. This producer gas contains, by volume, 13- 15% hydrogen, 18- 25% carbon mono- oxide, 5- 10% carbon dioxide and 48- 54% nitrogen. Its calorific value is 5,500kJ/Nm 3. The gas can either be burnt directly for thermal applications or used in dual- fuel or 100% gas engines for mechanical and electrical applications.

A number of gasification and biomass briquetting technologies have been indigenously developed. Some leading institutions in India are being supported to conduct research and development to further improve these technologies. India today ranks among the technology leaders in the world. Biomass gasifiers capable of producing power from a few KW up to 550 KW have been developed indigenously. They have successfully undergone stringent testing abroad, and are being exported to countries in Asia, Latin America, Europe and USA. A large number of installations for providing power to small scale industries and for electrification of a village or group of villages have been undertaken.

Special application packages have been developed for use of biomass gasification technologies for thermal and electrical applications in Rice Mills, Cold Storages, Textile Mills, Tube and Tyre Manufacturing Companies, Plywood Industries, Steel re-rolling mills, Tea/ Coffee drying units, Brick kilns, Ceramic Industries for reducing energy costs with an attractive payback period. MNRE has been providing financial incentives in the form of capital subsidies for various categories of systems installed in the field.

Approximately 148.26 MWeq of biomass gasifier based off-grid renewable power has been installed as on January 31, 2012. Approximately 12.532 MWeq of biomass gasifier based capacity has been installed during the current year from April 2011 till January 31, 2012.

Energy from Waste

Garbage in urban areas is another non- conventional source of energy. An estimated 30 million tons of solid waste and 4,400 million cubic metres of liquid waste are generated annually in urban areas of India. In addition, a large quantity of solid and liquid waste is also generated in the industrial sector. Most of this waste finds its way into rivers, ponds, lands, etc., without proper treatment, emitting gases like methane (CH4), carbon dioxide (C02), etc, resulting in odor, pollution of water & air.

This problem can be mitigated through adoption of environment friendly technologies for treatment and processing of waste before it is disposed off. These technologies not only reduce the quantity of wastes, but also improve its quality to meet the required pollution control standards, besides generating a substantial quantity of energy.

Potential for installing about 1,700 MW of power generating capacity from urban and municipal wastes and about 1,000 MW from industrial wastes exists in India, which is likely to increase further with economic development. Projects for utilizing this energy potential are being undertaken. India has two programmes for recovery of energy from urban and industrial wastes: The National Programme on Energy Recovery from Urban, Municipal and Industrial Wastes and The UNDP-GEF Project on Development of High Rate Biomethanation Processes.

Three projects for energy recovery from Municipal Solid Wastes (MSW) with an aggregate capacity of 17.6 MW have been installed at Hyderabad, Vijayawada and Lucknow. Other urban waste projects include a 1 MW plant based on cattle manure at Haebowal, Ludhiana; a 0.5 MW project for generation of power from biogas a sewage treatment plant at Surat; a 150 KW plant for vegetable market and 400 KWeq slaughterhouse wastes at Vijayawada. Another 300 KW project based on vegetable market waste is under commissioning at Chennai propelling the total installed capacity of India to 92.93 MWeq. (as on January 31, 2012)

New Technologies

New and emerging technologies like Hydrogen energy, Fuel Cells, Biofuels, Electric & Hybrid Electric Vehicles, Geothermal energy and Ocean energy hold major promise for meeting the future energy needs, especially for power generation and transportation. Several advances have been made in developing new technologies. MNRE is implementing broad based programs on these frontier technologies and has taken several initiatives to accelerate their development and demonstration with the participation of premier research & academic Institutions, universities, laboratories and industry.

Hydrogen & Fuel Cells

Hydrogen, high in energy content, is receiving world- wide attention as a clean and efficient energy carrier with a potential to replace liquid fossil fuels. When burnt, hydrogen produces water as a by- product and is, therefore, environmentally benign. At present, hydrogen is available as a by- product from several chemical processes, plants or industries. Hydrogen can be produced through several routes such as biological conversion of various organic effluents like distillery starch, sugar processing etc. It is produced by electrolysis of water using electricity and by thermal decomposition of water through solar energy or nuclear power. Hydrogen can also be produced through gasification of coal and by steam reformation of natural gas, naphtha etc.

Fuel cells electrochemically produce direct current (DC) electricity through reaction between hydrogen and oxygen. Emerging fuel cell and hydrogen energy technologies are suited for stationary and portable power generation as well as for transportation purposes. Hydrogen can be used either directly in IC engines or through fuel cells. Fuel cells can be potentially used in domestic, industrial, transport and agricultural sectors and also in remote areas for reliable power supply. Fuel cell power systems can be used as uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems, replacing batteries and diesel generators. Low operating temperature (up to 100°C) fuel cells are better suited for transport and small power generation applications. Medium and high temperature (up to 1000°C) fuel cells are preferred for power generation/ combined heat and power applications.

In view of the growing importance being attached to the development of fuel cells and hydrogen, a National Hydrogen Energy Board has been set up in October 2003. The Board will provide guidance for the preparation and implementation of the National Hydrogen Energy Road Map, covering all aspects of hydrogen energy starting from production, storage, delivery, applications, codes & standards, public awareness and capacity building.
A Steering Group of NHEB under the Chairmanship of Mr Ratan Tata is in the process of preparing the action plan, define goals and time frame for the specific proposals on hydrogen energy powered vehicles, power generating systems and the hydrogen energy road map including modalities for public-private partnerships.

Biofuels

Biofuel has been considered as one of the most preferred alternative fuel for petrol and diesel, particularly in the transport sector. Biofuels are fuels generated from biomass, which are Renewable Energy sources. There are different routes to use biomass as energy source such as directly burning it, controlled combustion to generate producer gas, anaerobic digestion to generate methane and fermentation process to produce alcohol. Oil extraction from the oilseed plants, transesterification of oil with alcohol to produce biodiesel is another way of using biomass as a fuel. While all above processes/methods generate biofuels, internationally alcohol and biodiesel have been named as bio-fuels.

MNRE has initiated a comprehensive program on Biofuels for surface transportation since 2002-03 to develop the technology for converting vegetable oils, mainly non-edible oils, to biofuels and promote the use of these biofuels in automotive sector after taking care of different aspects of the conventional diesel/ petrol engines.

MNRE started the Ethanol Blending Programme (EBP) in January 2003 with an ambitious target of 5% ethanol blending in 2003 to be increased to 20% blend by 2017. The mission has not been able to achieve its results due to lack of adequate sugarcane produce in the country over the past few years.

Another such policy was the National Biodiesel Mission (NBM), launched in April 2003, which targeted covering 11.2 to 13.4 million hectares of land in Jatropha plantations by the end of the XI five-year plan.

MNRE has also taken up a scheme on Biofuel Pilot Demonstration Project in rural areas for implementation with the objective to provide energy through non-edible vegetable oilseeds for rural people in far-flung areas for lighting, agricultural operations and other community based stationary applications such as drinking water etc. A number of developmental activities are being taken up in India for development and production of biofuels, which include 5% compulsory blends of ethanol in petrol in 9 States and 4 Union Territories and trials for 10% & above ethanol blends.

Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy, which is derived from the high temperature geothermal fluids, can be utilized for power generation and thermal applications like greenhouse cultivation, space heating and cooking. Geothermal energy has been commercially exploited by as many as 20 countries to generate approximately 9000 MW of electricity. However, for further utilization of geothermal energy, adequate infrastructure needs to be created and training needs to be undertaken.

Over the years various agencies like the Geological Survey of India (GSI), Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), and Central Electricity Authority (CEA) have conducted studies to assess the geothermal potential in India. Valuable data has been generated through these studies for the exploitation of geothermal potential at some fields in India. As a result of systematic geothermal exploration down to depths of upto 400 meters, preliminary data has been generated for nearly 340 hot springs in India. The use of geothermal energy has earlier been demonstrated in India for small- scale power generation and thermal applications. Assessing the suitability of sites through magneto- telluric investigations and other studies are also planned.

Ocean Energy

The vast potential of energy of the seas and oceans, which cover about 3/ 4th of our planet, can make a significant contribution to meet our energy requirement. The various forms of energy from the seas and oceans which are receiving attention at present are Tidal Power, Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC), Waves and Ocean Currents. The realization of power from oceans is limited due to large technological gaps and limited resources. At the present level of technological advancement only tides can be harnessed for power generation. In India, the Gulf of Kutchh and Gulf of Cambay in Gujarat and the delta of the Ganga in Sunderbans in West Bengal are potential sites for generating tidal power. The technology required for harnessing tidal power has been demonstrated in other countries. The main barrier in its introduction in India so far is that the technology is not commercially viable.

MNRE, however, has been supporting the deployment of tidal power generation in India and in this context has sponsored the preparation of a feasibility report by the West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency (WBREDA) to set up a 3.6 MW capacity tidal power plant at Durgaduani Creek in the Sunderbans area of West Bengal. During 2003- 04 an Environmental Impact Assessment study on the proposed project was completed by WBREDA. This study has covered several -aspects relating to the impact on physical, biological and human aspects such as topography, hydrology, water & air quality, forest & vegetation, fauna, aquatic ecology, rehabilitation, services, health & education etc. Based on this study, environmental clearance is being sought for the project.

Issues

The renewable energy sector in India is grappling with a few problems. Some of them are highlighted below:

  • The effort put in the in house research and development of the different renewable technologies that are available are not very high. As compared to other countries the amount spent in India on research and development of renewable technologies is very low.
  • Manufacturing systems with respect to the technology used and their deployment is not up to the mark. The capital cost of a solar power plant is about INR 12-18 per unit. This discourages developers to build plants based on such technologies.
  • Large scale funding needs to be provided to the sector at low costs. Financial institutions are apprehensive in providing finance for long term to projects based on renewable technologies because of the risks in viability of the project. IREDA, the main institution for financing renewable projects has laid down stringent norms for eligibility.
  • Lack of a consistent and stable policy environment.
  • The incentives provided by the government for the development of renewable energy are limited.
  • Renewable power is highly intermittent in nature. This characteristic of renewable energy makes it difficult to schedule the power.
  • The interest from the industry has been fairly lukewarm though renewable power for all its positive factors deserves a bigger cake. The benefits of the investment in renewable power need to be percolated down in the industry.
  • In most of the states the land suitable for renewables such as, wind farm development is situated in remote areas which are partly under forest land and government owned un assessed waste lands. It takes protracted time for obtaining approvals from various authorities for purchase / allotment of the land in favor of the developer.

Emerging Trends

With the advent of global warming and the increased focus on climate change renewable energy has seen renewed enthusiasm. The government is in the process of developing renewable energy certificates. Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) is being implemented throughout the country for compulsory use of minimum quantity of renewable energy. Under the Electricity Act 2003, the National Electricity Policy 2005 and the Tariff Policy 2006, it obligatory upon State Electricity Regulatory Commissions to fix a certain percentage for purchase of power from renewable energy sources in the area of a distribution licensee. Regulators in several States have issued Orders for Renewable Purchase Obligation varying from 1 per cent to 10 per cent. 

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