MNRE allocated Rs 54.73 billion for development of renewables

The Union Budget 2017-18 has laid special emphasis on renewable energy development. As compared to the previous year when funds worth Rs 50.36 billion were allocated to the sector, for 2017-18 the allocation to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) stands at Rs 54.73 billion. Around 74 per cent of the outlay has been earmarked for grid-interactive renewables, specifically for the second phase of solar park development with 20 GW of capacity. In the budget, Rs 33.61 billion has been allocated for solar and only Rs 4.08 billion for wind, a clear indication that the government will continue to prioritise solar. In addition, the budget extends support to power 2,000 railway stations through solar, under Indian Railways’ 1 GW Solar Mission. Meanwhile, smaller amounts of Rs 1.35 billion and Rs 760 million have been earmarked for small-hydropower and biopower respectively. Despite recent suggestions, large hydro remains outside the purview of renewable energy. The cess on coal remains unchanged at Rs 400 per tonne. While the total cess collected (projected until March 31, 2017) was a huge Rs 543.36 billion, only Rs 258.1 billion has been transferred to the National Environment Fund. Of this, less than half (Rs 124.27 billion) has been spent on renewable energy projects.