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State aims to add 14,400 MW to renewable energy portfolio by 2020

Cabinet approves policy to take renewable energy to 21,100 MW, spells out incentives

Written by MANASI PHADKE | Mumbai |
Updated: June 3, 2015 6:13:05 am
renewable energy, solar energy, solar energy maharashtra, maharashtra solar energy, solar energy project, solar energy project india, maharashtra news, india news, indian express Of the target, 7,500 MW is expected to come from solar power. (Express Archive)

The Maharashtra government has set its sights on enhancing installed capacity for renewable energy to 21,100 MW in the next five years, from about 6,700 MW at present, with a thrust on solar power.

The state cabinet on Tuesday approved a policy to add 14,400 MW by 2020 to the renewable energy capacity through public-private partnerships and captive power projects, and rolled out a slew of incentives for developers of these power projects.

More than 50 per cent, or 7,500 MW is expected to come from solar power. The target is also to add 5,000 MW from wind energy.

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An additional 1,000 MW is expected from bagasse-based co-generation, while the rest is likely from small hydro projects, industrial waste and agricultural residue.

State Energy Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule said, “We expect the cost of solar energy to drop to Rs 4.5-5 per unit from over Rs 7 at present. We will soon come out with an off-grid energy policy to encourage rooftop solar panels, energy conservation and energy-efficient technology such as LEDs.”

wattInstalled capacity of renewable power in Maharashtra is 6,702.93 MW, the highest in the country, though only 30 per cent is actually available for use, said an official. Installed capacity for solar power is still very low at 345.25 MW, with Gujarat ahead of Maharashtra in this regard.

About 2,500 MW, or a third of the 7,500 MW targeted additional capacity in solar power is expected to be generated on 49:51 public-private partnerships between the Maharashtra State Power Generation Company Ltd (MSPGCL) and private companies.

From the planned addition to wind energy capacity, about 1,500 MW would be generated through public private partnerships. The state power distribution companies will buy power from producers through reverse bidding to meet the ‘Renewable Purchase Obligation’ (RPO) manadated by the state power regulator Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission.

The regulator has made it obligatory for power distribution companies to meet a portion of their power requirement through renewable sources.

“Maharashtra meets 9per cent of the total power source in RPOs, with production being about 10,000 million units per year. This will increase to 15 per cent by 2020 by when our renewable energy consumption is likely to increase to 25,000 million units,” said a senior government official who requested anonymity.

He added that increasing dependence on renewable energy will not result in higher power tariff, as unlike thermal power, the cost of which is increasing steadily, cost of renewable energy is actually dropping with time. Among the incentives, the state government will give a deemed industry status to renewable energy projects to enable developers of such projects to avail tax exemptions and sops, and grant open access to allow them to sell energy directly to consumers.

The government will also exempt renewable energy plants from electricity cess for ten years. Further, the government has also decided to ease land acquisition through deemed non-agricultural permissions, and scrap the need of a no-objection certificate from the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board.

Bawankule said, “We have made a provision by which farmers need not necessarily sell their land for these projects, and can make it available on rent.”

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