Infrastructure support set to boost India's renewable energy programme

The government has taken a slew of measures to create the necessary infrastructure, including providing financial support and easing of environmental regulations, to give a fillip to the country's renewable energy programme.

Besides, the government has mandated use of locally made gear for major solar and wind power projects to promote domestic industry, even as it amicably resolved the anti-dumping duty dispute, to make India ''Solar manufacturing'' hub with priority for domestic players in line with ''Make in India'' programme.

With these initiatives, domestic manufacturers will have greater visibility on order books, while also getting an opportunity to upgrade technologically and be able to reduce costs.

In order to boost ''Clean Energy'' in the country, the government has earmarked Rs1,000 crore to provide support to central public sector units for setting up over 1,000 MW grid connected solar photovoltaic power projects.

Besides the government proposes to set up 25 solar parks each with a capacity of 500 MW requiring financial support from the centre of Rs4,050 crore and setting up of over 300 MW of solar power projects by defence and para military establishments.

With these decisions, India will emerge as a major solar power producing country as nowhere in the world are solar parks are being developed on such a large scale.

The government, meanwhile, has restored the accelerated depreciation benefit in the union budget 2014 to give much-needed relief to wind power developers and to ensure ramp-up of production. This will enable to kick start and ramp up wind capacity addition expeditiously.

In order to facilitate speedy growth of renewable power generation in the country, the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) is preparing a Renewable Energy Bill. This apart, the ministry is also preparing a scale up plan for the development of solar in the next five years.

Outlining the new government's priorities in the energy sector, President Pranab Mukherjee, while addressing the first session of both Houses of Parliament after the elections to the 16th Lok Sabha, said that the  government will come out with a comprehensive National Energy Policy and focus on development of energy related infrastructure, human resource and technology. The aim of the government will be to substantially augment electricity generation capacity through judicious mix of conventional and non-conventional sources. It will expand the national solar mission and connect households and industries with gas-grids.

To showcase India's renewable energy potential globally, the MNRE in partnership with Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Limited (IREDA), the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) is organising the Global Renewable Energy Investment Promotion Meet (RE-INVEST) from 15-17 February 2015 as a follow-up to the 'Make in India' initiative launched by the prime minister. RE-INVEST will enable the global investment community to connect with the renewable energy stakeholders in India.

The ministry of environment and forests has decided that classification of solar, wind and small hydro projects are out of red category to green category under central and state pollution control boards. The CPCB has issued an amendment in the categories of industries, according to which the wind and solar power projects of all capacities and small hydro projects of less than 25 MW capacity have been put in green category, ie, the project developers to obtain clearance from SPCB to ''establish and operate'' only once in the beginning.

The department of financial services under the union finance ministry has advised all banks to encourage home loan/home improvement loan seekers to install roof top solar PVs and include the cost of equipment in their home loan proposals just like non-solar lighting, wiring and other such fittings. Apart from this , the RBI have issued instructions to all scheduled commercial banks that the loans sanctioned by banks directly to individuals for setting up off-grid solar and other off-grid renewable energy solutions for households will be covered under priority sector lending.

The existing programme of solar pumps has been scaled up to solarise one lakh solar pumps and supplementary guidelines to this effect have been issued. Among the targeted one lakh pumps, 20,000 have been allocated to the ministry of drinking water supply and sanitation, 50,000 to MNRE for irrigation purpose through states and 30,000 pumps to NABARD for innovative implementation.

The Agence Francaise de Development (AFD) of France has decided to extend a line of credit of Euro 100 million to Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Ltd (IREDA), for the tenure of 15 years, without any guarantee from the Government of India, for financing the renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in the country. An agreement to this effect was signed between AFD and IREDA on 22 May 2014.

Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) Ltd and Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) also had signed an agreement for availing a line of credit of JPY 30 billion for 30 years (including the grace period of 10 years) from JICA, according to which IREDA will utilise the funds for financing renewable energy projects in India.

IREDA and US Exim Bank have signed a memorandum of understanding with respect to cooperation on clean energy investment, under which the US Exim Bank will provide $1 billion medium and long-term guaranteed and/or direct dollar loans to finance US technologies, products and services utilised during commercial development activities within the clean energy sector by IREDA.

Meanwhile, the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) has teamed up with the National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE), and a Consortium of partners consisting of National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (PGCIL), Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA), Power Finance Corporation (PFC), Power Trading Corporation (PTC), and Gujarat Power Corporation Ltd (GPCL) for setting up a joint venture company for undertaking the first demonstration offshore wind power project in the country along the Gujarat coast.