Renewable energy upbeat with the rise of Modi, who “knows the industry”

The renewable energy industry has welcomed the prospect of a BJP-led NDA Government as it feels that Narendra Modi understands the industry well.

Industry experts have also taken note of the fact that the BJP has had a ‘Non Conventional Energy Cell’ for a couple of years now, which, according to a member of the cell, will be rejuvenated and expanded now.

On the rise

As the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi oversaw the creation of over 900 MW of solar power capacity in the State, which is more than a third of the total capacity in the entire country. In recent years, wind power has also been on the rise in Gujarat.

Vineet Mittal, Co-Chair of the Assocham Renewable Energy Committee and Vice-Chairman of Welspun Renewable Energy, expects Gujarat’s success in solar to be replicated across the country.

Dramatic change

“One example that stands out,” Mittal said of Modi’s governance in Gujarat, “is his stance on solar policy.” Welspun, which owns about 300 MW of solar power capacity, is the largest solar company in India; it is also in the process of installing 126 MW of wind capacity in Maharashtra.

Pashupathy Gopalan, who heads Asia-Pacific, West Asia and South Africa operations of the US solar major SunEdison, expects Modi to make a “dramatic change” to the solar industry in India, since he (Modi) knows the solar industry “very, very well” and has taken some “pioneering steps” in solar in Gujarat.

Gopalan was referring to the Narmada canal-top project — the first of its kind in the country — where SunEdison put up a solar project on top of the canal. Gopalan says Modi saw huge small-business potential along the canal, since both water and electricity would be available close at hand.

Another Modi-initiative in Gujarat was the ‘rent-your-roof’ concept, where households rent their roofs for companies like SunEdison to put up solar projects.

Arunabha Ghosh, CEO of Council on Energy, Environment and Water, a think-tank, expects that ‘renewable energy’ would be given a “significant push” within the “strategic focus” he expects the new government to give to energy security.

Ghosh said that the new government could be expected to address issues such as land acquisition and bring about innovative financing for renewable energy projects.

Renewable energy cell

BJP’s renewable energy cell, at present active in just a few states (Maharashtra, Gujarat and Odisha) is expected to be expanded across the country, with district level units. These units will provide inputs to the Minister for New and Renewable Energy on problems at the district level.

Bio-diesel

One issue the cell is searching into is ‘why bio-diesel is not taking off in India’, said the member of the cell.

India today has a little over 2,630 MW of solar and about 20,000 MW of wind power capacity. The growth in both these major has been far below potential. As much as 2,146 MW of wind and 948 MW of solar capacity were added in 2013-14, but experts say that lot more was possible.

(This article was published on May 18, 2014)
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