Environment concerns have forced the State to rethink on its energy options, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has said.

“Our focus used to be hydel power but today we find it hard to get environmental clearances anymore,” he said while inaugurating a workshop on ‘Energy and environment – Challenges and Solutions’ here on Friday.

OPEN TO OPTIONS

The event was organised by Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation. The Chief Minister said the State now needed to concentrate on non-conventional resources such as solar and wind power.

The Government was open to all practical measures that would help the State generate clean, affordable power for future needs, and balance its energy requirements and environmental concerns.

The State could neither block development in the name of conservation nor destroy environment to pursue growth, the Chief Minister said. “Finding a balance between the two is our biggest challenge today,” he added.

Aryadan Mohammed, minister for power and transport, pointed out that although Kerala generated 28 times more power than it did in 1957, the number of consumers had increased by a massive 100-fold.

At this rate our power deficit would only widen, going forward. “Should we fail to address issues of energy availability and pricing urgently, we would be headed for an even bigger crisis,” he said.

The State had projects with total capacities of around 700 MW still awaiting environmental clearances. Environment was a genuine concern and we must do all we could to safeguard it, but it was also vital that these energy projects got off the ground to sustain development.

Solar and wind energy, as well as other non-conventional sources also needed to be explored, the Minister said. But there were limitations with respect to land availability, population density and financial viability. “However, if the 84 lakh domestic consumers in Kerala install rooftop solar power units of at least 1-2 kWh each, we could significantly reduce the load on our grids. These are solutions we must consider seriously.”

P. K. Kunhalikkutty, Minister for Industries and IT, said in his keynote address that the challenge today was to generate power that is cheap, reliable and cost effective.

vinson.kurian@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on June 14, 2013)
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