May 2, 2013

Greenpeace for Revision of Renewable Energy Policy in India

In the backdrop of a persistent power crisis and raging coal scam, Greenpeace today released its assessment report on Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) titled “Powering Ahead on Renewables: Leaders and Laggards”, which ranks performance of all the states on renewable energy supply and calls for revision of RPO mechanism based on equity principle.

RPO framework in its present form has failed to deliver its mandate and many powerful states including National capital Delhi have made the mockery of current framework. The Ministry of Power needs to make it mandatory with a provision of penal measures to ensure the implementation of RPOs directive.

In all, out of 29 states, 22 failed to meet their RPO targets which lead to loss of more than 25% electricity that was expected to be generated from renewable energy sources in 2012.

Very few states have demonstrated the leadership in implementing the RPO framework and fulfilling their obligation on renewables. The north eastern state of Meghalaya and Nagaland, the hill states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh and the southern coastal states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have clearly taken the lead in not only meeting their RPO targets but also generating over and above the targets.

Disappointingly, heavy energy consumer and a resourceful Union Territory like Delhi that could have set an example, is a straggler in terms of fulfilling its obligation. Despite a good potential for solar, the National Capital fared amongst the worst with not even one per cent achievement. Regulators failed to penalise or implement the directives of RPO in Delhi and in other key states like Maharashtra and Punjab, which fell short by about 50 per cent.

Notably, performance on renewable in the three major coal bearing states of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand was contrasting with the former taking the lead and the latter two falling far behind.

Talking at a press conference, Abhishek Pratap, senior energy campaigner, Greenpeace India and lead author of the report said, “This report is an indictment of the whole policy framework around renewables and the dismissive attitude of the government towards it. RPO mechanism could have been a tool to bridge the demand-supply gap in the energy sector across the country. But the toothless mechanism combined with unambitious targets has failed to give any impetus to renewables in India. Delhi as the national capital should have been a trend setter. But it has set the trend in the reverse direction.”

The report, a joint effort of Greenpeace and Infraline Energy, highlights the inconsistency between national renewable energy targets set by National Action Plan on Climate Change and the RPO targets fixed by state electricity regulators. The overall cumulative targets set by various state regulators is 5.44 per cent, whereas the national target is set at 7 per cent resulting in a deficit of 1.56%, which translates into nearly 14,268 million units of electricity from renewable energy projects.

“The differential RPO targets derived for each state in the report are based on current and projected installed capacity of renewable energy, existing consumer profile, the state’s fiscal deficit, and state Gross Domestic Product. The report recommends the same criteria be used for setting new RPO targets that are ambitious, equitable and viable but mandatory for every state,” said Rohit Khatri, energy researcher, Infraline Energy.

The report further recommends fiscal and policy measures to promote renewable energy projects over conventional electricity . To improve the share of renewable energy in electricity grid for its distribution and supply and fight the pricing perception barrier, higher amount of renewable energy should be taken on priority basis from renewable-rich states and open up proper inter-state transmission.

“India’s international position on energy equity needs to be translated within the country as well. Rich states need to take higher responsibility on clean energy development to create space for poor states. There is a perception block that renewable energy is costly and not viable and hence cannot power India’s ambitions. To meet its growth objectives, provide energy to all and reduce energy inequity, India needs to reform its energy sector and prioritise renewable,” added Pratap

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