Sunday, July 24, 2005

Renewables in India - A Tale of Two States

Tamil Nadu, India's southern-most state, hopes to consolidate its position as the number one state as far as using renewable energy sources goes.

At 2,317 MW, 20% of Tamil Nadu's electricity comes from renewable energy sources. The national average is 4.8%. The share of the state in the total renewable energy produced in the country stands at 30%, further validating its leadership position.

The state is actively pursuing a variety of renewable sources including wind, biomass, biofuels and solar power.

In wind power the state already has 61% of the total capacity in the country, owing to inherent advantages resulting from it getting winds from both the south-east as well as the north-east.

In biomass, the Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency recently recommended 37 bio-mass projects to generate a total of 260 MW, of which 15 projects with a total capacity of 145MW have been approved by the government. Biomass gasifiers were also being promoted for thermal and electrical applications.

The state has mandated the installation of solar water heating systems on certain types of buildings. Another proposal "to make mandatory the installation of solar lighting system in the common area of multi-storied residential apartments", was awaiting State Government approval.

Way up north, the government of Jammu and Kashmir, recently announced a new state hydro power policy, which had an arrangement for Independent Power Producers. Several private sector companies have thus come forward to install hydel projects in the state. The Chief Minister recently laid the foundation stone for the first such project - the Arhabal Power Project which will generate 15 MW of power and cost Rs 105 crores to construct. The cost per megawatt is rather high because of the lack of scale, but that only means that payback will take longer. Still the government hopes to start about 25 mini and micro hydel projects with a cumulative capacity of 2000 megawatts during the current year.

Strictly speaking while hydro-power is renewable, it is often considered environment unfriendly and thus does not qualify for the clean sobriquet.