The north Indian state of Punjab has issued a draft renewable energy policy with a target to procure 21% of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030.
The draft policy, issued by the Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA), also outlines technology-specific targets for solar power and bio energy. The state plans to set up 3 gigawatts of solar power capacity by 2030. To achieve this, the state will encourage the installation of utility-scale, canal-top, rooftop, floating and hybrid solar power projects. Punjab currently has an operational solar power capacity of 810 megawatts.
Agriculture is a major contributor to Punjab’s economy and bio energy has received special emphasis in this draft policy. The state could target 1.5 gigawatts of biomass-based power generation capacity. This could utilize the crop residue available after harvesting, which is currently burnt across the state. The multiple benefits of this would be reduction in air pollution, disposal of crop residue, and additional income to farmers.
Punjab has not issued any major tenders for utility-scale solar power projects for a few years now and no large solar power projects are expected to be commissioned in the coming months either. It remains unclear yet if the state government would restart the tendering process or will be flexible in sourcing solar power.
Several states have approached the Solar Energy Corporation of India to access cheap solar power. SECI auctions large solar power projects and then offers the capacity to interested buyers. This allows the project developers to choose the project site of their choosing and the buyers to potentially access solar power at very attractive rates. This model could work well for Punjab which lacks, both, ample solar radiation and adequate wasteland to support large-scale solar power parks.