Views of Sunaina Tomar

“Gujarat is a vibrant energy-sufficient state”

Sunaina Tomar, Additional Chief Secretary, Energy and Petrochemicals Department, Government of Gujarat

Gujarat, one of the early movers in the renewable energy space in India, is known for its planned approach to sector development and effective implementation. Power generation through renewable sources has been on the rise in the state. Gujarat’s total renewable capacity crossed the 10 GW mark in 2020, making it the third state after Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to have more than 10 GW of installed capacity. It is now moving towards new frontiers with plans to install the first offshore project in India and setting up a unique 30 GW wind-solar hybrid park on wasteland. At the third Global RE-Invest event, Sunaina Tomar, additional chief secretary, energy and petrochemicals department, Gujarat government, speaks about the installed renewable energy capacity in the state, and various policies and schemes floated to promote the sector. Excerpts…

Current scenario

India has an ambitious renewable energy capacity expansion programme to install 175 GW by 2022, in which Gujarat has been a front runner. It is an energy-sufficient state with a vibrant energy sector. The state contributes 13 per cent to India’s renewable energy basket. India’s total renewable energy capacity is 89 GW, to which Gujarat’s contribution is 11 GW. Further, the state has the highest solar rooftop installation in the country, which adds up to about 800 MW.

Looking at Gujarat’s energy mix, renewables contribute 11,264 MW to the state’s installed capacity mix, forming a substantial share of about 37 per cent. Within the renewable energy basket of Gujarat, wind power capacity has the highest contribution of 7,845 MW. Solar power, inclusive of rooftop installations, contributes about 3,273 MW, while biomass and waste-to-energy together contribute 81.5 MW and small hydel contributes 62.4 MW of the installed capacity.

There have been several policy initiatives taken by the state government over the years. Some of the landmark policies include the solar Policies of 2009 and 2015, Wind Policy, 2016, Small Hydel Policy, 2016, Waste-to-energy Policy 2016, and Wind-Solar Hybrid Policy, 2018. The Solar Policy, 2009 was a big first step as it was introduced at a time when solar power was at a nascent stage in the country, when costs were very high. The state is now in the process of revising the solar policy as the term for the last one was five years. Other recent supporting policies include the the Land Allocation Policy for Wind/Solar/ Hybrid Parks, 2019, Policy for Development of Small-Scale Distributed Solar Projects 2019, and the policy for allocating land for the development of solar projects in the vicinity of the existing 66 kV Gujarat Energy Transmission Corporation Limited (GETCO) substations.

Investor-friendly state

Gujarat is a very investor-friendly state. The environment created by Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Limited (GUVNL) and the state discoms is investor friendly as the state has sustained timely payments, provides concessional benefits, has a proper evacuation structure, has zero curtailment and supports a transparent e-bidding process. Investments in the sector are also facilitated by a favourable policy environment and high renewable energy potential. The state has a robust policy framework, including benefits and incentives for the entire 25-year project life. Micro, small and medium enterprises are encouraged to take up solar projects as there is relaxation for solar installation without any capacity limit. Consumers are empowered by allowing captive consumption and third-party sale with concessional benefits and exemptions for these. Other measures include 50 per cent of cross-subsidy surcharge and additional surcharge in the case of third-party sale, 50 per cent of wheeling charges and losses and exemption from electricity duty. The surplus power can also be bought by state discoms at lucrative tariffs.

Gujarat plans to add renewable energy capacity through several routes. One way is through competitive bidding for power procurement from wind and solar projects. Another way is through rooftop solar projects or installing small-scale distributed solar projects. Other government initiatives include developing solar projects near GETCO substations, state government schemes such as the Suryashakti Kisan Yojana (SKY) and Kisan Suryodaya Yojana, solarisation of the Modhera Sun Temple and Gandhinagar city.

“Gujarat has grand plans for its renewable energy sector in the coming years.”

Capacity addition through competitive bidding

Under capacity addition through competitive bidding, the state has successfully concluded auctions for 4,150 MW of renewable energy power at competitive tariffs. In the wind segment, Gujarat has tied up 700 MW of capacity with tariffs going as low as Rs 2.43 per kWh. Meanwhile, 3,450 MW of solar capacity has been tied up, with tariffs going as low as Rs 2.44 per kWh. A capacity of 482 MW onshore wind has been commissioned under this regime, while 190.6 MW has been scheduled to be commissioned in 2021. Another 500 MW tender is going to be floated in due course. For offshore wind, the Gujarat government has given in-principle approval to procure power from the first-of-its-kind 1,000 MW offshore wind project. The bidding for this project is to be undertaken by the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI).

In the case of solar power procurement through competitive bidding, there are many projects that fall in the ultra mega solar park category as well as those in the non-park category. Under the non-park category, a capacity of 1,850 MW has been tied up while 565 MW has been commissioned. Currently, there is also a 500 MW tender, which is open for participation. Under ultra-mega solar parks, the Charanka Solar Park is a unique state-of-the-art multi-developer and multi-beneficiary solar park developed in 2010, with over 850 MW in operation. For the upcoming Dholera Solar Park with a slated capacity of 5,000 MW 1,000 MW has already been tied up by GUVNL, while the remaining 4,000 MW is to be auctioned by SECI. Other solar parks include the Raghanaseda Solar Park with 600 MW of capacity tied up and the Harshad Solar Park with a planned capacity of 500 MW and a detailed project report in progress.

Government schemes

Gujarat has a policy for the development of projects near GETCO substations through which land allotment is done on lease at a token rate of Re 1. The projects are to be developed in the proximity of existing substations with a spare capacity. This will ensure the optimum utilisation of existing transmission infrastructure. The capacity planned under this scheme is 2,500 MW and the Gujarat government will provide a grant of 50 per cent of the project cost under this scheme. Meanwhile, the policy for small-scale distributed solar projects aims to encourage generation at the 11 kV/66 kV level for small investors in the capacity range between 0.5 MW and 4 MW. The development of projects is to take place in a distributed manner, with a total planned capacity of 2,000 MW. The power will be procured at a tariff based on competitive bidding plus Re 0.20 per kWh. The rooftop policy, SURYA Gujarat 2019, aims to promote solar rooftops, rationalise the subsidy scheme and increase the capacity. The target set under the policy is to install 2,000 MW covering 0.8 million residential rooftop consumers.

We have two policies for farmers as well. SKY is set to empower farmers by making them self-reliant for energy requirement and providing scope for additional revenue through supply of surplus power to the grid. A pilot project consisting of 89 feeders has been set up. It amounts to a total of 94 MW capacity, covering 4,105 farmers. The Kisan Suryodaya Yojana is an innovative scheme for day-time power supply to the agricultural sector. The scheme plans to provide three-phase power supply from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. to farmers. This will ensure optimisation of solar power without disturbing the existing power supply system. The transmission infrastructure has been planned at an estimated cost of Rs 35 billion for the next three years.

“Gujarat has successfully concluded auctions for 4,150 MW of renewable energy at competitive tariffs under capacity addition through competitive bidding.”

In addition, the solarisation of Modhera Temple initiative ensures a synergy between the modern use of solar energy and the ancient sun temple. It aims to convert Modhera into a “Net Solar Energy Positive” town by meeting the entire energy requirement through solar power. This initiative is at an advanced stage of implementation. Finally, part of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy’s (MNRE) Solar City Programme, the Gandhinagar Solar City has achieved 26 MW of capacity installation out of the contracted load of 100 MW. This is part of the solarisation exercise for all government and public buildings thorough financial support from the MNRE.

The way forward

The state has grand plans for its renewable energy sector in the coming years. Among these is the development of a large-scale wind-solar hybrid project. Gujarat has envisaged establishing a wind-solar hybrid park at Kachch with a capacity of 30,000 MW. This will be developed under the government’s policy for the allocation of wasteland on a lease basis for establishing renewable energy generation parks.

With a current capacity of 11,264 MW, Gujarat plans to expand its installed renewable energy capacity to 15,699 MW by 2022 and further to 65,542 by 2030. Promising renewable energy potential, competitive and transparent auctions and a supportive policy environment indicate a promising trajectory for the renewable energy sector, moving forward.

 

 

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