Hit by acute power shortage, Tamil Nadu would be able to overcome the situation only with a change in “mindset” of policy makers and industry leaders regarding integration of renewable energy sources like solar and wind energy given its abundant availability in the state, a study has revealed.

The project – “Action plan for comprehensive Renewable Energy development in Tamil Nadu” was undertaken by World Institute of Sustainable Energy (WISE), CII and non-profit organisation – Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation.

“The project has revealed that renewable sources of energy are abundant, can be managed and that the main problem with Renewable Energy integration is not technical. It is our mindset”, World Institute of Sustainable Energy Director General, G.M Pillai said.

Noting the report has identified that renewable energy integration would lead to 36,340 MW of new renewable energy capacity during the 12th and 13th five year plans, he said, “We are so tuned to the comforts of a predictable centralised conventional-machine model and associated network that renewable energy seems like an unwieldy change bringing us out of our comfort zones.”

“The project implies Renewable Energy integration requires only our willingness to understand renewable energy and our resolve to choose them”, he said.

About the study, he said the total renewable energy potential was found to be over 720,000MW comprising solar photo-voltaic (259,000MW), onshore wind (196,854 MW) and solar CSP (78,505 MW). “Deployment of even 20 per cent of the total renewable energy potential would mean availability of about 140,000MW (to Tamil Nadu)”, Pillai said.

Responding to a query, he hoped the cost of solar energy would come down in another two or three years as it would have the grid parity by 2016. “See, solar energy will achieve grid parity by 2016. I think, India may achieve it much earlier.

“Maybe by that time, the cost may come down.”

Observing that Rs 11,675 crore may be required as funds for provision of setting up adequate infrastructure facility for renewable energy projects, Pillai said, “The state will have to take a leadership role at the national level on issues that impact power sector and focus on the ability of the State to integrate the renewable energy generation capacity effectively.”

Calling for the State government to announce a renewable energy policy, the study said, “Tamil Nadu has a solar policy, but no notified policy on renewable energy.”

“In the absence of a notified policy, some critical interventions suggested are creation of state clean energy fund and land policy for renewable projects”, it said.

The study suggested that the integration of southern grid with North-East-West (NEW) grid and enactment of commercial mechanism for inter-state trade of power were two most important requirements for renewable energy integration.

“Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (TNERC) will have to act proactively by addressing not only existing bottlenecks but also in formulating regulations considering the future needs of the State”, it said.

Referring to ongoing power projects in Tamil Nadu, the study said there were considerable ‘risks’ in depending on coal for long-term power requirements for the State.

“Almost all long-term power sector projects (to be commissioned in 2015) in Tamil Nadu are coal-based projects at a very preliminary stage of planning”, it said.

Considering issues of domestic coal constraints, import dependence and price volatility of imported coal, it is worth considering whether the proposed projects ‘materialise’, it said.

The study recommended that pilot projects of appropriate size for solar, offshore wind and energy plantations should be taken up in Tamil Nadu.

(This article was published on December 28, 2012)
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