Renewable energy in India : News & Updates

Inverted umbrellas for harvesting rainwater and harnessing solar energy

Special CorrespondentHYDERABAD,July 29, 2019 22:43 IST

SCR installs them at Guntakal railway station’s main circulating area

The South Central Railway (SCR) has been known to take up several innovative initiatives to speed up infrastructure work and provide passenger amenities. Now, the officials have decided to showcase their skills in harnessing solar energy and harvesting rainwater with the installation of inverted umbrellas or ‘Ulta Chaata’ canopies.

Pilot project

These inverted ‘umbrellas’ have been installed at the Guntakal station’s main circulating area as part of a pilot project. The canopy is to utilise the sustainable space and harness solar energy and harvest rainwater apart from other uses such as mobile-laptop charging and seating space.

The canopy called ‘Model 1080’ because of its geometrical angles of internal structure has a simple design of an umbrella. It is developed further by adding features to harvest water and harness solar energy. The product is manufactured and supplied by Think-Pie Sustainable Lab Pvt. Ltd and is available in different sizes, said senior railway officials.

The firm claims it to be among the first such integrated plug-and-play system combining shading, clean water and intelligent lighting with a great design. About six such inverted umbrellas have been installed at the Guntakal railway station at an estimated cost of around ₹14 lakh.

Each of the inverted umbrella weighs 120 kg. They are square-shaped with central stainless tube, consisting of 40W-efficient LED lamps. These canopies are provided with mono-crystalline flexible light-weight panel, lithium ion battery with charge controller, automated sensor controls. The canopies have been installed by the side of the exit road and along the walking path at the circulating area, said Chief Public Relations Officer Ch. Rakesh.

Inverted umbrellas for harvesting rainwater and harnessing solar energy
Ladakh To Get World’s Largest Solar Power Plant; 5,000 MW Capacity Project To Be Completed By 2023

by Swarajya Staff - Jan 14 2019, 11:51 am
Representative Image (FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images)

Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), under the renewable energy ministry, is promoting 5,000 MW (mega watt) and 2,500 MW solar power projects in Ladakh and Kargil. With its mammoth power generation capacity, solar project at Ladakh will become the world’s largest single-location solar photo-voltaic plant, Times of India has reported.

The solar power projects in Ladakh and Kargil are slated to be completed by 2023 at an estimated investment of Rs 45,000 crore.

Ladakh project will be located at Hanle-Khaldo in Nyoma at a 254 km distance from Leh. The power generated by the project will go to Kaithal in Haryana for which a 900 km line will be laid mostly along the Leh-Manali road.

On the other hand, the Kargil project will be built 254 km away from district headquarter at Suru in Zanskar. The project will be connected to the power grid at New Wanpoh near Sri Nagar.

Bids for the projects include combining the plant and associated transmission lines and putting promoters in control so that they do not have to depend on another entity for transmission and suffer in case of delaying of evacuation routes.

“We have addressed issues faced in previous tenders and taken into account the challenging geography," SECI director (power systems) SK Mishra was quoted in the report as saying.

Leh and Kargil administrations have designated 25,000 and 12,500 acres of non-grazing land, respectively, at prices remunerative for the hill councils. They will also earn a rental of around Rs 1,200 per hectare per annum with 3 per cent annual increase.

Ladakh To Get World’s Largest Solar Power Plant; 5,000 MW Capacity Project To Be Completed By 2023
Why storage is the next big thing for the power sector

Battery storage could be the next frontier for the power sector in India where hardships from power outages are not a distant memory.

By Ashish Gupta, Aug 18, 2019

10 Megawatt (MW) energy storage system in Rohini, Delhi. Image: Sanjay Rawat

From the outside, Tata Power Delhi Distribution’s office in Rohini looks like a part of any other electrical substation in the country. High-voltage cables and wires criss-cross each other above the premises. A narrow path demarcates the grounds into two parts. Different types of transformers, circuit breakers, and other installations make up one side. On the other is a nondescript grey single-storey building that stretches across nearly 600 square metres. The whole complex is protected by an eight-foot-high boundary wall.

One of four chambers in the building is a battery room which at 400 square metres is the largest. It is packed with 124 racks of batteries and inverters stacked one on top of the other with a communication system on one side. The other side of the room contains four low-voltage switch gear of 420 volts of alternating current each. But this isn’t just some local electricity substation: What the room actually holds is the components of South Asia’s biggest battery-based energy storage system. What exactly can it do? It can discharge 10 megawatts(MW) of electricity in just milliseconds, enough to power nearly 6,000-7,000 households for an hour in case of a power failure.

The project—a collaboration between Tata Power, global clean energy company AES Corporation, and Mitsubishi Corporation—is India’s first grid-scale battery-based system which can store energy produced by both fossil fuels and renewable energy. The technology, called Advancion, which drives the project has been provided by Fluence, a joint venture between Germany-based Siemens and U.S.-based AES Corporation. The alliance came into being when the two decided to leverage each other’s strengths to achieve their goal of “creating a more sustainable future by transforming the way we power our world”, says Fluence Energy’s mission statement. This would be achieved by synergising Siemens’ expertise in manufacturing quick-response, short-duration storage batteries (of 30 minutes) for commercial and industrial uses with that of AES in building higher-capacity and longer-period batteries that can last for hours.

India is no stranger to power outages. As the country turns to alternative sources of energy to meet increasing demand from households and industry, the Tata Power project could be a game changer. In case of a shortfall in power in the grid—the network that gets power from producers and then releases it to the consumers—the storage batteries come to life. Stored direct current power in the batteries is converted into alternating current by an inverter and then ramped up to 11 kilowatt per hour (kWh) through a step-up transformer. The main switchgear cranks up the output to 66 kWh to make it grid-compliant. All this happens in milliseconds, which ensures that Tata Power Delhi can provide uninterrupted and quality power to all its customers, when other energy sources are not available.


Image : Photo Courtesy: Fluence Energy

“What storage does is provide very rapid power...and [Battery storage] can be put into places where it can help the power network be most reliable and cost-effective,”
- John Zahurancik, chief operating officer, Fluence Energy.
Storage could be the next frontier in the power sector in a country where hardships from power outages are not a distant memory. In 2012, excess drawing of power by some states and weak inter-regional power transmission corridors caused back-to-back blackouts in India on July 30 and July 31. The first one was in nine states including the capital when the northern grid collapsed, affecting 300 million people. Power supply resumed after 15 hours. A bigger blackout followed the next day. This time 700 million people in 20 states were affected. There was total chaos on those two days: Hospital services were disrupted, commuters were stranded as train services were shut down, and inoperative traffic lights led to blocked roads.

Battery storage can change all that. It ensures that the company’s engineers no longer have to worry about the continuous imbalance between power generation and consumption when millions of devices are turned “on” and “off” night and day. An imbalance in demand and supply can lead to sudden spikes or falls in grid frequency, causing irreparable damage to sensitive equipment in households or even industries. Long-term and large-scale fluctuations can destabilise the grid too, which could result in grid collapse.

Sudden dips or surges in grid frequency— sudden changes in the flow of electricity between two points—are a major pain point for distribution companies (discoms) such as Tata Power Delhi Distribution (a public-private partnership between Tata Power and the government of NCT of Delhi) because of the “deviation settlement mechanism”, or penalty payment for deviating from the power withdrawal schedule. For the grid to function smoothly it needs to function at 66 kWh; anything higher or lower can destabilise the grid. Fines can run into crores of rupees. However, the benefits of the battery storage system go far beyond being just a back-up service to bridge the demand-supply gap in the grid, contends 47-year-old Rupam Raja, market director for India and South Asia at Fluence, a company with 83 projects totalling over 800 MW in 18 countries. John Zahurancik, chief operating officer of Fluence, points out that while Indians are familiar with energy storage from a home-based battery system, they are new to storage on a network level and on an electricity system level. “That was partly the reason why we worked with AES and Mitsubishi and Tata on this system in Delhi. It would give the system and network operators familiarity with how storage reduces their costs, improves their reliability, and helps them incorporate renewables,” explains Zahurancik.

For India, renewable energy holds the key to meeting its carbon emissions target made at the Paris Agreement on Climate Change in 2016. It needs to reduce its carbon footprint by a third in 2030 and ensure that 40% of its electricity comes from non-fossil fuel-based sources. “That can only be made possible if there is a much higher energy off-take of renewables and its integration in the grid,” says Raja. Many studies have pointed out that transportation and power generation account for about 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions.


Image : Sanjay Rawat

"Large-scale deployment of energy storage has the potential to upend industry structures, both physical and economic, which have defined power markets for so long"
- Rupam Raja, market director, India and SE Asia, Fluence.​

As part of its efforts to cut emissions, India is looking to install 175 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity by the year 2022. A big problem with renewable energy like solar and wind is intermittency or variability of energy output from these sources. Unlike energy produced from coal whose steady supply to power generation plants means steady output, variance in the amount of sunshine or wind speed can disrupt the output. Dan Steingart, Stanley-Thompson associate professor of chemical metallurgy at Columbia University, says while ambitious targets are a good start, “innovation in energy or specifically in batteries” is important. Zahurancik says renewable storage will play a far more important role in the future as the government starts putting more and more restrictions on thermal power plants.

This is where battery storage can be of huge help. On lean days when the variance is high, excess energy that is stored can be used to make up for the fall in output and steady the flow of power to the grid. “What we are doing is converting intermittent variation prone solar and wind energy into schedulable and dispatchable power to the grid with the assistance of battery storage,’’ says Raja. Zahurancik says besides the benefit of generating power in a fraction of a second, storage facilities can be installed nearly anywhere.

“What storage does is provide very rapid power... and [it] can be put into places where it can help the power network be most reliable and cost-effective,” he adds. More importantly, with storage renewable energy can also become a primary source of power—providing power 24x7—instead of just complementing thermal power.

A key reason for the battery manufacturing industry’s success and the adoption of green energy in recent years has been the fall in prices of lithium. Nearly 92% of all storage batteries use the metal. Lithium-ion batteries are of two kinds. A smaller version is used in smartphones, electronic items, and electric cars—whose proliferation is likely to propel the market for lithium from $13 billion in 2017 to $41 billion by 2024, according to a report by energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie. Others are factory-sized, grid-level devices storing massive amounts of energy for large-scale generation, transmission, and distribution companies, as well as commercial projects, industrial plants and residential quarters. Today, many factories, industrial plants, and residential colonies are turning to distributed energy—putting up hundreds of solar panels on rooftops or setting up wind farms—not just to cut power bills but also to reduce their carbon footprint and do their bit for the environment.

Between 2011 and 2019, the cost of lithiumion batteries fell by 80%. “It is expected to further go down by 8% every year for the next three years,’’ says Raja. Other items in the battery facility such as inverters and the air conditioning system can be localised to further cut costs. In a recent blog, Logan Goldie-Scot, head of energy storage at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said the price of an average battery pack will be $94 per kWh by 2024 and $62 per kWh by 2030. In 2018, it was around $200 per kWh. Grid-level batteries can also solve some of the country’s more complex goals.

As Rupesh Sankhe, vice president, institutional equity research, Elara Capital, points out: “Cheaper energy storage opens up opportunities to accelerate the transition to sustainable energy systems, including electric vehicles, urban power consumption, rural energy access, electricity distribution, grid integration and a complete replacement of coal power plants.” But regulators and policymakers must protect existing investment in the renewables sector while developing a framework conducive to synergies between renewables and energy storage, he adds.

The uniqueness of battery storage to which most people turn a blind eye is its versatility. “Unlike other power assets like generation, transmission, and distribution that work in silos, battery storage can benefit all these three areas in the electricity value chain,” argues Raja, who has a degree in international business from Thunderbird School of Global Management in the U.S.

Take discoms, for instance. Most of them are forced to buy additional power at higher rates to meet peak-time demand. “However, if excess power from off-peak hours is stored locally in battery storage, the same can be supplied to the consumer without the discoms having to stretch its pockets,” argues Sankhe of Elara Capital. For generation players, integrating more renewable energy at less than `3 per kWh compared to thermal at ₹4.10 per kWh to ₹5 per kWh, means discoms can provide low-cost power to consumers while keeping their margins intact. Transmission companies can save on capital expenditure by locating batteries close to peak load areas and discharging them to meet peak demand, instead of building thousands of kilometres of peak load infrastructure. “What it means is that large-scale deployment of energy storage has the potential to upend industry structures, both physical and economic, which have defined power markets for so long,” says Raja.

The challenge for storage makers is to make grid-scale storage systems viable. Developers like ReNew Power, which are building solar plants and wind farms, are unwilling to add storage to their portfolio because of cost concerns. With the levelised cost of electricity—electricity delivered on the grid from the source—becoming the benchmark for all utilities, storage is still a nascent business. “Energy storage systems are expensive and require a significant upfront investment,” says Sankhe. “Adequate fiscal incentives and suitable subsidies would pave the way for early adoption and implementation of this technology.” Globally too, the business is yet to pick up. In 2018, total storage was just enough for 6,000 MWh of electricity in the grid, according to Wood Mackenzie.

Steingart says there are challenges in India as it tries to roll out battery storage. The national grid is weak compared to the U.S. or Germany, sourcing of raw materials for lithium ion-based batteries is an issue, and there is a general reluctance to pay a premium for better quality electricity. Some think pump hydro storage, in which stored water is forced up a terrain using solar or wind energy and then released on a turbine, is a better option. The Central Electricity Authority estimates 96 GW of pump storage capacity is available at 63 sites; some 2.6 GW is already operational.

Companies and governments, says Raja, have not recognised the value and benefits of such devices: “For instance, how should you value an asset that can generate 10 MW or 100 MW of power in milliseconds when all other power sources have collapsed.” No other form of storage in India, including pump storage, can accomplish such a feat. Setting up battery storage, unlike pump hydro storage, is far easier. It does not require environment clearances and can begin operations in months and costs ₹3.5 crore-₹4 crore per MWh. The Tata Power storage plant was set up in nine months flat. “We can build 1,000 MW, four-hour batteries today,” says Raja. “Hence, ambition is the only constraint, not its potential.

This was originally published in the August 2019 issue of the magazine.

Why storage is the next big thing for the power sector
Govt to give renewables their moment in the sun
In a renewed push to cut India’s dependence on fossil fuels, the central government wants state-run companies to build massive clean energy parks at a cost of around $2 billion each, with built-in incentives to ensure states and operators are invested in the success of the parks.

The proposed ultra mega renewable energy power parks (UMREPP) of 2,000 megawatts (MW) each will help developers achieve economies of scale and further bring down solar and wind power tariffs.

Setting up such parks will bolster India’s image as a clean energy champion at a time the world is grappling with concerns related to climate change. Clean energy projects now account for more than a fifth of India’s installed power generation capacity.

These green energy parks will be set up under the existing Solar Park scheme, which provides the building blocks—land and grid connectivity—and will be implemented by a special purpose vehicle (SPV).

“Various public sector undertakings have been urged to set up ultra mega renewable energy plants in major states in collaboration with state governments through SPV mechanism for these parks," said Anand Kumar, secretary in the ministry of new and renewable energy, adding that the SPVs can either purchase land or take it on lease from state governments or private parties.

To get states on board and facilitate the requisite clearances, state governments will be paid ₹0.02 per unit of electricity generated from the projects over their lifetime.

The power ministry’s ultra-mega power project programme was India’s earlier attempt to create large power generation capacities at a single location. However, it has had its share of problems, weighed by environmental concerns and local resistance.

(Graphic: Sarvesh Kumar Sharma/Mint)

“The state governments will facilitate the SPV to identify and acquire land, and obtain required statutory clearances," a government official aware of the plans said, requesting anonymity.

The SPVs will also be paid park development and operations and maintenance (O&M) charges by the developers, and ₹0.02 per unit on the electricity generated over their lifetime. The operators that will set up renewable energy projects such as wind or solar inside the clean energy park will be selected through tariff-based competitive bids..

India is seeking additional clean energy investment of around $80 billion till 2022, growing more than threefold to $250 billion during 2023-30.

According to a government note reviewed by Mint, “the capacity of the UMREPP may be in the range of 2,000MW. However, the minimum capacity of any UMREPP at a single location may be 600MW where there is need for creation of new transmission system by CTU (central transmission utility). The UMREPP, connected to any existing transmission system of CTU/STU (state transmission utility), shall be of the size of 250MW at a single location. For floating solar PV (photovoltaics) parks, the minimum size should be 50MW".

These mega solar park plans comes against the backdrop of Tesla, China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd (CATL) and BYD Co. Ltd, among others, showing an initial interest in the Indian government’s plan to build large factories to make lithium-ion batteries at an investment of about ₹50,000 crore. Aimed at securing India’s energy needs, the plan to set up these 50 gigawatt hour (GWh) factories has been cleared by the expenditure finance committee, with the final tender expected to be awarded by February. Each gigawatt hour (1,000 megawatt hours) of battery capacity can power 1 million homes for an hour and around 30,000 electric cars.

The government wants to make India a global manufacturing hub for electric vehicles and their components. This is aimed at arresting the South Asian country’s reputation as the world’s third-largest crude oil importer, saving on precious foreign exchange and also controlling pollution in its major cities.

In what is being marked as a turning point for India’s green economy, investments in the country’s renewable energy sector doubled over the last five years to around $20 billion in 2018, surpassing the capital expenditure in the thermal power sector, according to a joint study by Paris-based International Energy Agency and Council on Energy, Environment and Water.

India has been trying to rejig its energy mix in favour of green energy sources. At present, India has an installed power generation capacity of 357,875MW, of which around 22%, or 80,000MW, is generated through clean energy projects. India has become one of the top renewable energy producers globally, with ambitious capacity expansion plans to achieve 175GW by 2022 and 500GW by 2030, as part of its climate commitments.
Govt to give renewables their moment in the sun
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43 years on, Baggi power plant to see the light of day
The hydro power generation plant at Baggi, which was constructed on the Beas-Sutlej Link (BSL) over four decades ago, will finally become operational as the dispute over royalty and power sharing between member states of Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) has finally been resolved.

The operationalisation of the power plant, which was lying in a disused state since 1976, will add another 40 megawatts (MW) to the BBMB’s power output.

“The decision to make the plant functional was taken by the Board recently,” a senior BBMB official said. “This follows a go- ahead given for the same by the Himachal Pradesh Cabinet, which was crucial since the plant is located in the state,” he said.

Baggi Power Plant comprises two units of 20 MW each. It is situated at the exit of the 13-km-long Pandoh-Baggi tunnel and makes use of the 200-foot height differential to generate hydro electricity. Water then flows on towards the Dehar power plant on the banks of the Sultej and the water from the Beas is then released into the Sutlej.

BBMB member states comprise Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. There was some dispute over the sharing of power produced at Baggi. “It has now been decided that Himachal Pradesh will receive a royalty of 12 per cent of the power generated at this plant and the remaining output would be distributed among the member states in accordance with the laid-down mandate,” the official said.

The power generation, however, will still take some time. “A lot of repair work and refurbishment has to be undertaken before things get going. The surge shaft and pen stocks also require special attention,” he said.
To generate 40MW of electricity

  • Baggi Power Plant comprises two units of 20 MW each. It is situated at the exit of the 13-km-long Pandoh-Baggi tunnel and makes use of the 200-foot height differential to generate hydropower
  • The power plant has been in disuse since 1976
  • The dispute over royalty and power sharing between member states of Bhakra Beas Management Board has been resolved
43 years on, Baggi power plant to see the light of day
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The previous target was 175 GW of renewables by 2022. Now its 450 GW ??:eek::eek: That's a huge increase. Any timelines on when we are targeting to achieve this ?
Found something :

India will increase share of non-fossil fuel, will increase renewable energy capacity to beyond 175 GW by 2022 and take it to 400 GW.

PM Modi vows to more than double India’s non-fossil fuel target to 450 GW by 2022

Not sure why the media is touting 2022 as the target date. I doesn't seem to be the case. Was it 450 or 400 ? And the target seems to be an open ended one with no final date.
A bit off topic, but it shows how little things make a huge impact.

India’s streetlight replacement programme reduces 1,119.40 MW of peak demand; helps reduce carbon emission

3 min read . Updated: 01 Oct 2019, 10:11 PM IST Utpal Bhaskar
  • 'It is a phenomenal achievement,' Saurabh Kumar, Managing Director of EESL told Mint
  • In an attempt to get urban local bodies on board, it is EESL that makes the entire upfront investment in installing these street lights

India is now the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after the US and China, and is among countries most vulnerable to climate change (Photo: Twitter)

NEW DELHI : As part of India’s strategy to combat climate change, one crore smart LED (light-emitting diode) streetlights have been commissioned across the country, thereby helping avoid 1,119.40 megawatt (MW) of peak electricity demand.

Under the world’s largest streetlight replacement programme being implemented by state-owned Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL), these streetlights are illuminating 2.7 lakh km of roads, resulting in annual energy savings of 6.71 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) and helping reduce 4.63 million tons of carbon dioxide emission.

In an attempt to get urban local bodies on board, it is EESL that makes the entire upfront investment in installing these street lights. Given the revenue model, the municipalities pays EESL from the savings accrued on account of energy efficiency over the seven year contract period that guarantees a minimum energy saving of 50%.

“It is a phenomenal achievement," Saurabh Kumar, Managing Director of EESL told Mint.

India is now the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after the US and China, and is among countries most vulnerable to climate change. India plans to reduce its carbon footprint by 33-35% from its 2005 levels by 2030, as part of its commitments to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change adopted by 195 countries in Paris in 2015.

The Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP) was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January 2015, aims to replace 1.34 crore conventional street lights by March, 2019. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is making a strong case urban local bodies such as municipal corporations deliver better services in the backdrop of rapid urbanization.

“Under SLNP, Andhra Pradesh is leading the way amongst the states, with an installation of 28.9 lakhs LED streetlights followed by Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh with 10.3 Lakhs and 9.3 lakhs respectively. As on date, 1,502 Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) across India have been enrolled under the programme and out of these ULBs, work has been completed in around 900 Urban Local Bodies," EESL said in a statement.

India’s embrace of energy efficiency measures is perhaps best reflected in its programme to expand the use of LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs. The government’s UJALA (Unnat Jyoti by Affordable Lighting for All) scheme help cut LED bulb prices. This gave India’s efforts to cut energy use a shot in the arm, and helped dissipate doubts over the country’s ability to run the world’s largest energy efficiency programmes.

“India is a country which does things when it decides to do things…We are creating a new country. A country which is confident. We are building a new identity for ourselves," said power minister Raj Kumar Singh on Tuesday.

India’s energy efficiency market is estimated at $23 billion with a vast potential to grow. The government is working towards giving appropriate price signals for achieving demand- side response. This ranges from perform, achieve and trade (PAT) programme, a market-based energy efficiency trading mechanism for moving towards cleaner cooking fuels. Other measures in the works include redefining India’s mobility architecture through EVs, improving energy efficiency of electrical appliances, motors, agricultural pumps and tractors, and even buildings.

“By March 2020, SLNP aims to replace 1.34 crore conventional streetlights in India with smart LEDs. This ambitious goal will make a tremendous difference, enabling peak demand reduction of about 1500 MW, annual energy savings of 9 billion kWh, and reduction in 6.2 Million tons of CO2 per year. EESL has an ambitious plan in this portfolio for next 4-5 years where it intends to bring investment to the tune of Rs8000 crore by 2024 by covering entire Rural India. It is expected that more than 30 million LED streetlights would be retrofitted/installed by EESL," the statement added.

India’s streetlight replacement programme reduces 1,119.40 MW of peak demand
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Solar, wind farms soon along India-Pak border

2 min read. Updated: 10 Oct 2019, 11:46 PM IST by Utpal Bhaskar
  • India has set a target of achieving 175GW of clean energy capacity by 2022 under its climate commitments
  • A 30km long and 20km wide parcel of land has been identified along the border in Kutch district of Gujarat

The Centre wants state-run firms to build massive clean energy parks at a cost of $2 billion each (Photo: AP)

New Delhi: To address the issue of land availability for clean energy projects, India will set up solar and wind projects on fallow land along its international border with Pakistan, according to a top government official.

The idea was first mooted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and will help tackle the problem of agricultural land being diverted for such projects. Accordingly, a 30km long and 20km wide parcel of land has been identified along the border in Kutch district of Gujarat and stretches along the border in Bikaner, Barmer and Jaisalmer districts of Rajasthan.

“We are looking at border areas as they offer wasteland, where such projects can be set up," new and renewable energy secretary Anand Kumar said in an interview over the phone.

India is running the world’s most ambitious renewable energy programme, with a target of achieving 175 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2022 as part of its climate commitments. Currently, India generates 82,580 megawatts (MW) of clean energy, or 23% of its total power production.

“Hon’ble Prime Minister has desired that renewable projects be installed along 20km of international border. He also desired that renewable energy be used to generate drinking water in desert areas close to the border.

Accordingly, the Ministry has requested both Rajasthan and Gujarat to identify suitable land near international border (20-25km strip) where solar and wind projects can be installed," according to a government document reviewed by Mint.

As part of its commitments to combat climate change, the government has proposed that state-run companies build massive clean energy parks at a cost of around $2 billion each, with built-in incentives to ensure states and operators are invested in the success of the parks.

The proposed renewable energy power parks of 2,000MW each will help developers achieve economies of scale and further bring down solar and wind power tariffs.

“We should consciously utilize wastelands. Why should good agricultural land be used for setting up such projects?" said another government official, who did not want to be named.

“We have seen that in some areas, agricultural land gets diverted for setting up clean energy projects, which in turn raises the question of food security."

Setting up such strips will further bolster India’s image of a clean energy champion at a time the world is grappling with concerns related to climate change.

“These are desert areas with no habitats. These are large stretches that can be utilized post defence clearances because security is paramount," said the second government official cited earlier.

India’s clean energy sector is going through a crisis. With record low solar and wind power tariffs, banks are wary of lending to developers as they suspect the viability of projects that have agreed to sell power at rock-bottom tariffs.

There are other problems such as delays in payment by state-run power distribution companies that range from two months to 15 months and non-allocation of land-to-wind power projects, as well as transmission- and connectivity-related challenges.

Solar, wind farms soon along India-Pak border