Clean Power

Published on May 17th, 2014 | by Guest Contributor


Narendra Modi Faces Test To Revive India’s Renewable Energy Sector

May 17th, 2014 by  


Narendra Modi at India Economic Summit 2008 Credit: World Economic Forum | CC BY-SA 2.0

The man who can very well be credited to have kickstarted India’s ongoing march towards solar power capacity of 22,000 MW by 2022 — Narendra Modi — has been handed a historic mandate in the world’s largest-ever democratic exercise.

The Narendra Modi–led Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) secured a simple majority in India’s general election. This historic win has been welcomed by the renewable energy sector, which expects favorable reforms.

Modi has been the Chief Minister of the state of Gujarat for over 10 years during, in which he initiated what was then the largest-ever solar program in the country. Under his leadership the state power distribution companies in Gujarat signed agreements to procure electricity from solar power projects with a cumulative capacity of more than 900 MW.

These projects, some of which have been set up by foreign companies, are considered as the base for the National Solar Mission. With a national installed solar power capacity of around 2,600 MW, Gujarat continues to command the numero uno status with a share of about 34%.

Challenges Before The Renewable Energy Sector

The renewable energy sector is India is facing a number of problems. The wind energy sector has only just started seeing a resurgence after a year of policy vacuum which saw the capacity addition falling to a three-year low. The sector can now ill afford such a policy vacuum as it awaits the launch of the National Wind Energy Mission.

The domestic solar photovoltaic manufacturers are in unspeakable financial mess. The national solar mission has completely failed in providing any sort of revenue addition to their business. The Indian solar power market is overwhelmingly dependent on cheap, imported solar PV modules. The module manufacturers as well as the developers are facing a status of indecisiveness as the government is unable to take a decision on whether to impose import duties on imported modules or not.

The biomass power project developers have been urging the government to help them revive ailing projects. The sector has numerous issues, including the cost and availability of fuel and level of preferential tariff being offered.

The renewable energy sector on the whole is suffering from inaction on the implementation of the Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) that requires large industries and power distribution companies to procure a set minimum percentage of their electricity from renewable energy sources.

The main reason for the lack of incremental demand in renewable energy is the poor financial health of the state-owned power distribution companies. On March 2012, these companies had a cumulative financial debt of $41 billion. The challenge that awaits Modi is the financial revival of these companies while ensuring that electricity remains affordable to the end users.

Smooth implementation of the National Wind Energy Mission and putting the National Solar Mission back on track are some of the other challenges facing the new government. The BJP, in its election manifesto, had promised to fast-track the National Solar Mission.

One may expect some creative and unique policy initiatives being implemented to boost the renewable energy sector. Modi implemented the canal-top solar power program in his state which is now planned to be replicated in other states as well.

The business community, however, remains optimistic that a change in the government will bring healthy results for the overall industrial growth and investment in the country.

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  • Dalip dua

    Government should bring fast track redressal norms or windowsill

  • Excellent.

    Here is an action plan for wide utilization of Renewables and Energy
    conservation for the New Government headed by Narendramodi in India.


    For captive consumption of electricity, wind electricity is probably the cheapest option.If one considers medium term horizon, together with benefits of CERs/ RECs,wind energy would turn out to be the cheapest source of captive electricity
    from the beginning. Total cost of ownership for wind farm is far lower than
    that of captive plants based on conventional fuels.

    Main strengths of wind energy projects are:

    • Enormous wind
    energy potential across the globe,

    • Protection
    against inflation or escalation in electricity

    generation cost over the project life,

    • Ease of putting
    up a wind farm,

    • Low operations
    and maintenance requirements,

    • Scalability,

    • Short gestation
    period and others.

    As on 31 Jan 2014
    the installed capacity of various Renewables are:

    Wind 20293.83


    Small Hydropower

    3774.15 MW

    Biomass Power
    & Gasification 1285.60 MW

    Cogeneration 2512.88 MW

    Waste to Power

    99.08 MW

    Solar Power
    2208.36 MW



    Waste to Energy
    119.63 MW

    Cogeneration 517.34 MW

    Biomass Gasifiers

    -Rural 17.63 MW

    – Industrial
    146.40 MW

    systems 2.18 MW

    SPV Systems 159.77

    Water mills/micro
    hydel 10.18 (2547 nos)

    Family Biogas
    Plants (numbers in lakh)(1 Million = 10 Lakhs) 47.10

    Solar Water
    Heating – Coll. Areas(million m2) 7.51

    of New and Renewable Energy,Government of



    No doubt India occupies 5th Position in Wind Energy in the World after China,US,Germany and Spain. The phenomenal success of Wind Power in Germany and other Europen countries is through Wind Farm Co-operatives.

    Community wind energy:

    Community wind projects are locally owned by farmers, investors, businesses, schools, utilities, or other public or private entities who utilize wind energy to
    support and reduce energy costs to the local community. The key feature is that
    local community members have a significant, direct financial stake in the
    project beyond land lease payments and tax revenue. Projects may be used for
    on-site power or to generate wholesale power for sale, usually on a
    commercial-scale greater than 100 kW.


    A wind turbine cooperative, also known as a wind energy cooperative, is a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise that follows the cooperative model,
    investing in wind turbines or wind farms. The cooperative model was developed
    in Denmark. The model has also spread to Germany, the Netherlands and

    Australia, with isolated examples elsewhere . In India Depreciation Benefits
    are given to only big Industries investing in Renewables. Why not Government
    give Income tax benefits to Individual tax payers who invest in a WIND FUND(to
    be created by the Government) and give tax exemption under Section 80 C to
    start windfarm co-operatives. This way there will be mass participation in Wind


    Offshore wind power refers to the construction of wind farms in bodies of water to generate electricity from wind. Better wind speeds are available offshore compared to on land, so offshore wind power’s contribution in terms of electricity supplied is higher. However, offshore wind farms are relatively expensive.

    Economics and benefits


    wind power can help to reduce energy imports, reduce air pollution and

    greenhouse gases (by displacing fossil-fuel power generation), meet renewable

    electricity standards, and create jobs and local business opportunities.




    of about $1.5 million per MW


    cost of 6-7 cents per kWh


    – 1-3% of capital costs

    May be built in
    smaller units



    of $2.3 million per MW


    cost of about 10-11 cents per kWh


    O&M – 40$ per kW and 0.7 cents per kWh variable

    Large turbines and farms required

    In spite of the higher costs and the uncertainties involved in offshore wind,

    research in this sector has been significant, and the main reason is the

    potential offered by offshore wind turbines, especially in lands close to water

    At the end of 2011, there were 53 European offshore wind farms in waters off Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom, with an operating capacity of 3,813 MW,[ while 5,603 MW is under construction. USA, China, South Korea, Taiwan, France and Japan have ambitious plans to go in for offshore wind farms on a massive scale.

    Length of coastline of India including the coastlines of Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal and Lakshwadweep Islands in the Arabian Sea is 7517 km.

    Thorough Wind studies have to be carried out along the coast to identify the prospective offshore wind farm sites. Based on these studies a Pilot project can be started by MNRE which will help as a Demonstration project.

    Accurate wind measurements at the site are the constraint. Many a time wind data is extrapolated to the hub height at sites where the wind turbines are to be
    erected. In the US in California wind farm developers used to monitor
    (Anemometers, Anemographs) in the past at the sites where wind turbines to be
    erected (Now Wind Masts). This gives more or less reliable wind data and hence the turbine output.Unfortunately in some cases Wind Farm developers can’t wait for years to measure the wind data(In some cases to avail the tax benefits
    quickly) and hence correlate the nearest wind mast data. That is why there will
    be variation in the output. Moreover terrain also plays an important role in
    wind energy production.

    Remote sensing measurement techniques enable measurements to hub height and beyond. There are resource measurement technique using sodar and lidar which need to be adopted in India along with at least 75 meter Wind masts.

    In a vast country like India as alternative energy biofuel and Biogas for power generation is the best option. India has vast area of waste land. Care-free growth plants which are regenerative and CAM like Agave and Opuntia can be grown on a massive scale in these waste lands. Biofuel and biogas can be obtained at local level. Mexico is pioneer in it.

    Agave is a CAM Plant. Crassulacean acid metabolism, also known as CAM photosynthesis, is a carbon fixation pathway that evolved in some plants
    as an adaptation to arid conditions in a plant using full CAM, the stomata in
    the leaves remains shut during the day to reduce evapotranspiration, but open
    at night to collect carbon dioxide (CO2). The CO2 is stored as the four-carbon
    acidmalate, and then used during photosynthesis during the day. The pre-collected CO2 is concentrated around the enzyme RuBisCO, increasing photosynthetic efficiency. Agave and Opuntia are the best CAM Plants.

    Agave Competitive Advantages

    * Thrives on dry land/marginal land. Most efficient use of soil, water and

    * Massive production. Year-around harvesting

    * Very high yields with very low or no inputs

    * Very high quality biomass and sugars

    * Very low cost of production. Not a commodity, so prices are not

    * Very versatile: biofuels, byproducts, chemicals

    * World-wide geographical distribution

    * Enhanced varieties are ready.

    Another care-free growth plant is OPUNTIA.


    The salient features of power scenario are as under: POWER SCENARIO OF ANDHRA PRADESH FOR 2007-08



    PEAK DEMAND 10048 MW

    PEAK MET 9162 MW

    PEAK DEFECIT / SURPLUS – 886 MW (- 8.8 %)

    ENERGY DEFICIT / SURPLUS – 2628 MU (-4.1%)

    Sector wise break up of energy sales in MU


    Public Water works & Sewage pumping 639.58 (1%)

    Agriculture 15241.05 (29%)

    Public Lighting 1934.87 (4%)

    Industrial Power 19839.69 (37%)

    Commercial 2736.85 (5%)

    Domestic 10678.52 (20%)

    Others 2246.77 (4%)

    ENERGY SAVING POTENTIAL IN AGRICULTURAL SECTOR The annual electricity sale to agriculture sector is 15.24 BU. The major energy consumption is in the area of energising agricultural pumps. The population of agricultural pumpsets is
    around 2.60 million, accounting for a connected load of 9850 MW and annual
    consumption of 14.48 BU. The energy saving potential assessment has been
    carried out only for agricultural pumpsets, whereas other allied areas have not
    been considered. The rating- wise population of agricultural pumpsets is as

    Population of different sized agricultural pump-sets HP EPDCL SPDCL CPDCL NPDCL
    Number of Pumps Connected Load (kW) %

    3 36531 202539 128322 506213 873605 1955128 19.85

    5 80620 304689 721338 287999 1394646 5202030 52.81

    7.5 24943 69934 45404 27901 168182 940978 9.55

    10 21711 51046 24990 29116 126863 946398 9.61

    Over10 21795 39241 10327 15022 86385 805540 8.18

    TOTAL 185600 667449 930381 866251 2649681 9850074 100.00

    % 7.00 25.19 35.11 32.69 100.00

    Based on several studies carried out on agricultural pumpset efficiency, it has
    been found that the pump efficiency varies from 25-35% due to various factors.
    By adopting BEE star lebelled agricultural pumpsets, the efficiency can be
    enhanced upto 50-52%. It is estimated that, by replacement of existing pumps
    with the BEE star labelled pumps, the achievable saving potential is 30-40% and
    sectoral saving potential works out to be 4.34 BU per year.

    (Source: State-wise Electricity Consumption & conservation Potential in
    India, For BUREAU OF ENERGY EFFICIENCY (BEE) Ministry of Power, Government of

    Prepared by NATIONAL PRODUCTIVITY COUNCIL (NPC) Energy Management Group )

    A Novel Scheme to replace Old and inefficient agricultural pumpsets:

    Out of the 2.6 Million Agricultural pumpsets in the country many are old and inefficient. The power tariff for farmers is minimal. Electricity is a high grade energy which is needed in industries,domestic purposes,computers etc. A scheme can be
    chalked out to replace the inefficient motors by Efficient ones. The cost of a
    5 HP Electric motor costs about Rs 20,000 .A subsidy of Rs 15,000 can be
    provided to replace these inefficient motors.This yields quick results and
    “Energy conservation is better than energy generation”. Each Kwh saved is each
    Kwh generated. About 30% of the Electricity consumption can be saved by replacing Agricultural old pumpsets with advanced and efficient ones.

    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

    Renmewable Energy


  • Media Mentions

    I am actually finding the Modi victory very intriguing. From what I’ve read in today’s media (some favourite titles here, it looks like the victory can lead to a sharp turn to authoritarianism, and that can be both a good and bad thing. Guess time will tell.

  • Instead of providing subsidized electricity, government should encourage rooftop solar by offering low interest financing for 10 to 15 years and FIT, unless it makes financial sense no one will jump in to install solar, key is FIT + low interest financing

    This move will reduce lot of consumer demand, existing and new demand due to raise in middle class, Discoms could procure power from its citizens and provide it to industries, this is the fastest way to get to energy independence in India

    This will generate lot of domestic demand, which in-turn kickstarts domestic manufacturing, Government should move away from subsidy business as it is often misused

  • JamesWimberley

    The downside to Narendra Modi is his divisive brand of Hindu nationalism. The upside is proven technocratic competence. In Gujarat he fixed the intractable problem of politically-guaranteed subsidised electricity to farmers by effectively splitting the supply into two markets. Farmers continue to get cheap electricity, but for only part of the day, enough to run their irrigation pumps; and everybody else – town-dwellers and industry – get 24/7 electricity without a subsidy.
    Modi may even be able, as Mussolini proverbially did, to get the trains to run on time.

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