Govt looking to boost hydro power generation, energy efficiency: Goyal

The government will take major policy initiatives to boost clean power generation, including hydro power, improve transmission network and accelerate the use of energy-efficient LED bulbs, as the country continues to reduce its carbon emissions, minister for power, coal and renewable energy, Piyush Goyal, said.

He said the energy-efficient LED bulbs are now selling in such large volumes that their prices have crashed below Rs60, adding that consumers have gained enormously from the LED lighting programme as it reduces their monthly electricity bill significantly.

Addressing a conference organised at the launch of the energy portal ETEnergyworld.com, the minister said his government was determined to resolve legacy issues that have choked India's energy sector. He said the government had already tackled the shortage of coal, which had plagued the thermal power sector.

Power secretary P K Pujari, coal secretary Anil Swarup and renewable energy secretary Upendra Tripathy said in separate sessions at the launch of the energy portal that the days of fuel scarcity were over and the country was now faced with the problem of plenty.

"Earlier, I was pressurised for coal deficit, now for surplus... I have coal, I have rakes, I don't have demand," Swarup said. Pujari said the country has about 25,000-MW of idle and underutilised electricity generation capacity as private companies set up power plants in anticipation of high prices.

Industry leaders such as GMR Energy chairman GBS Raju, Lanco chairman Madhusudhan Rao, Suzlon chairman Tulsi Tanti and Sterlite Grid vice-chairman Pratik Agrawal told the minister at a breakfast meeting that the energy sector would make rapid progress if efficient transmission and distribution along with a stable grid was ensured.

Solar energy entrepreneurs, including ReNew Power chairman Sumant Sinha, Hero Future Energies chairman Rahul Munjal also highlighted the importance of efficient distribution and transmission as well as grid stability.

Industry leaders attending the conference also included Tata Power Solar CEO Ashish Khanna, First Solar country head Sujoy Ghosh, Fortum India MD Sanjay Aggarwal and Adani group's CEO for renewable energy Jayant Parimal.

Sounding a note of caution for entrepreneurs, Sinha said a lot of renewable energy companies are keen on selling their plants after bagging them through aggressive bids. This, he said, may affect project implementation and decrease the appetite for new projects in primary market.

Earlier, speaking at a conference on `Transformation in Energy Sector Value Chain', Goyal said that large corporates in India should recuse themselves from award ceremonies and instead encourage smaller companies and people who really need to be encouraged.

"May be a good idea if all the big corporates of this country decide to recuse themselves from awards because they are already doing a good job, they have already reached a certain scale and level, but nevertheless what we need to do is take this to people who really need to be encouraged," he said while inaugurating a CSR Awards-cum-Summit organised by Assocham.

Goyal also said that he had opposed making two per cent corporate social responsibility (CSR) spending by private firms mandatory when it had come to the Parliamentary Standing Committee of Finance for review of the company's law amendment.

"I genuinely believe that CSR is not something that you force down somebody's throat because the moment there is something which is made mandatory then it becomes ritualistic and could often also become just a way to create a facade or fill in a document or a form but will not necessarily do the kind of benefit to the society that one should really be wanting to," said Goyal.