The government has mandated that any new coal-fired power plant that starts generating electricity from April 1, 2023 will also have to install renewable energy capacity equivalent to 40 per cent of the thermal capacity.

The Power Ministry in a notification, last week, also mandated that coal-based plants with Commercial Operation Date (COD) between April 2023 and March 2025 will have to comply with the requirement of producing 40 per cent power from RE sources by April 1, 2025.

The Power Ministry has accordingly revised the Tariff Policy, 2016 for Gencos to comply with the Renewable Generation Obligation (RGO).

“It has been decided that any generating company (Genco) establishing a coal or lignite-based thermal generating station and having the COD of the project on or after April 1, 2023 shall be required to establish renewable energy generating capacity (in megawatts) i.e. RGO of a minimum of 40 per cent of the capacity (in MW) of a coal or lignite-based thermal generating station or procure and supply renewable energy equivalent to such capacity,” the notification said.

Besides, the notification added that the thermal generating station with COD between April 1, 2023 and March 31, 2025 will be required to comply with RGO of 40 per cent by April 1, 2025. Also, any other coal or lignite based station with COD after April 1, 2025 will have to comply with the RGO of 40 per cent by the COD.

“Further, a captive coal or lignite based thermal generating station shall be exempt from requirement of RGO subject to its fulfilling Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPOs) as notified by the central government,” the notification said.

The move is aligned with India’s COP26 pledge of having 50 per cent power generated from RE sources by 2030 as well as having 500 GW of non-fossil fuel capacity by the end of this decade. India also aims to be Net Zero carbon emitter by 2070.

Focus on clean energy

India, the world’s fastest growing emerging market for clean energy, has been aggressively pushing its mandate for RE through which it wants to reduce dependence on imports of fossil fuels and coal and cut down on CO2 emissions.

The RE generation from various sources has resulted in savings of an estimated 1,372.72 million tonnes (mt) of CO2 emissions during the last five years and the current financial year —FY18 to FY23 (up to December 2022).

As of January 2023, India’s total installed RE capacity is around 169.40 GW, which includes 63,893.83 MW of solar power, wind power (41,983.18 MW), biomass power/ co-generation (10,209.81 MW), small hydro power (4,939.65 MW) and waste-to-energy (523.05 MW). Besides, the country’s large hydro power capacity is around 46.85 GW and another around 6.8 GW of nuclear power.

With a normative cost of ₹4 crore per MW for solar installation, it is estimated that an investment of around ₹2.53-lakh crore has been made on installation of 63,302.47 MW capacity solar projects in the country.

That apart, projects of 78.75 GW capacity are under various stages of implementation and another 32.60 GW capacity is under various stages of bidding as of December 2022.

The country’s total installed capacity is 411.65 GW, which includes 204.44 GW of coal-fired power generation, 24.82 GW of gas and 6.6 GW of lignite based capacity.