Kolkata, Sept 18 IBNS | 2 years ago

Principal Secretary of Power and NES Department, West Bengal, Malay Kumar De on Wednesday revealed that the state government will make grid-connected land available for setting up renewable energy projects - mainly solar and wind - in Kharagpur and Mandarmani respectively.

The revelation came at the 4th Energy Conclave organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Eastern Region in Kolkata.

"West Bengal will continue enjoy energy and have assured fuel linkages for forthcoming expansion plans," said De, who is also the Convener of the 4th Energy Conclave.

The Conclave was attended by all stakeholders - from policymakers, key energy professionals, representatives from generation, transmission and distribution sectors, to independent power producers, energy consultants/auditors, energy equipment manufacturers, and even users.

De highlighted what West Bengal has achieved in the past 10 years and why it can be a role model for other states in the country.

"We made a conscious departure from ultra-mega power projects and increased efficiency by having more discoms. This has increased efficiency in fluctuation and enhanced flexibility. We have absolutely no worry in the next 8-10 years," De claimed at the Inaugural Session of the Energy Conclave, a flagship annual CII initiative.

"No matter how big the demand is, West Bengal is comfortably placed. On the fuel front: we have ensured availability and ensured price. We also have captive coal mines. In terms of energy security, renewable, customer service, we have done exceedingly well," he said.

West Bengal, De said, is also working on areas of renewables."The State Government has decided that all major Government buildings will have solar rooftops," he said.

He said Rajarhat New Town will become a Solar City. "We are working on the plans and modalities. In fact, the Government has identified a few more places where such a model will be tried," he said.

Tarun Kapoor, Joint Secretary MNRE, Government of India, revealed the Union Government's perspectives on Solar Mission. "Given that the country is in overall deficit, solar energy can make a perceptible difference. The equivalent energy potential is about 6,000 million GHh of energy per year," he said.

Kapoor mentioned the long-term cost-effectiveness of solar power. "The price of solar has come down drastically. It started with Rs 17, but now, if you look at new tenders, it's only Rs 7-8 per kw."

He also spoke on the "long-term benefits" of Solar-Thermal hybrid. "Currently, the cost is high, but it will come down soon. And if you make cost accounting, solar will be much cheaper 25 years from now."

Solar rooftops water for farming through solar-based pumps will also go a long way in closing the gap between demand and supply, he added.

"In Germany, rooftops contribute 70 percent of the 33,000 MW coming from solar. Please give up diesel and embrace solar," he made an impassioned plea to industries.

In a presentation, Ashish Khanna, Leader-Energy, World Bank, not only outlined the power scenario in India and shared the global best practices, but also spoke about some sustainable models and explained the World Bank's funding norms. He explained how India has made rapid strides in the past few years in terms of capacity addition.

"Of the current installed capacity (225 GW), about one-third has been added in the past 5 years. Moreover, it's been a great PPP story with 55 GW added in 11th Five-Year Plan Period. The other notable achievement is the 1500 MW of grid connected solar generation capacity commissioned," Khanna said.

However, in his view, distribution continues to be the weakest link and the heavy consumption by the farm sector is adding to losses. "This is effectively hurting the economy," he said.

On the potential constraints to growth, Khanna pointed on some issues like inadequate and poor quality of supply, 8.7 percent energy deficit and 9 percent peak deficit, and 60 percent of Indian firms rely on captive or back-up generation (20 percent in China).

He said more than 300 million still lack access as 33 percent (44 percent in rural areas) of households lack access to electricity.

"Under-performing Discoms have hit the ceiling in their debt sustainability limits. Over 70 percent of sector losses are contributed by distribution. Political and administrative commitment is essential, not just at the beginning, but right through," Khanna noted.

In his view, unbundling is not sufficient. "Upfront visible improvements in quality of power supply and customer service is important to mobilise support for reforms. So is corporate governance and institutional reforms to ensure long term and sustainable development. Financial management and accountability are also essential," he explained.

However, Khanna said, "All remedies are homegrown. The private sector has to play bigger role and the public sector must join hands. The government's role is to facilitate, inter-connect, formulate policies, make decisions and make sure how we fight our own battle and win."

Earlier, in his Welcome Address, Sudhir Deoras, Chairman, CII Eastern Region, said, "Power has to be there if we want to grow at 9 percent. The country is growing. So is the demand for power. It's a formidable challenge for the country to close the gap between generation and demand."

"It's time we reflected on whether we could sustain for long with the conventional way of producing power. Renewable energy requires a great push," siad Deoras, who is also the Managing Director of TRF Ltd, a Tata Group company.

According to World Bank data, coal demand rose by 8 percent in 11th plan and trend is expected to continue. The expected coal shortage in 12th plan is 28 percent.

Deoras expressed optimism that with the government's power outlay Rs 1.1 million crore and some effective policies in place, the country will be able to catch up soon.

In his Theme Address, Aloke Mookherjea, Past Chairman CII ER and Chairman Flakt India, called for greater emphasis on sustainability. "But," Mookherjea added, "sustainability does not come from non-use, but prudent use of natural resources."

R N Sen, Chairman, Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC), underscored the need for deeper integration between generators and distributors. "With the demand pattern being erratic, we have to have a holistic way." In his view, managing surplus is formidable a challenge than coping with deficit.

Aniruddha Basu, Managing Director, CESC Ltd., a company that is widely regarded as one of the finest models of customer centricity, listed some key achievements made by the power sector.

"First, the capacity addition has been three times since 1999. Second, there has been a revival of private participation in the distribution sector since the Enron debacle. Third, more people have access to power. Fourth, the Enactment electricity Act - it is a landmark Act. And fifth, the government's emphasis on clean energy," he said.

"Much of the capacity addition (63,000 mw) is coal based. In my view, renewable energy perfectly fills the demand-supply gap," said Basu.

The Inaugural Session over, the Energy Conclave saw three sessions, each featuring stalwarts from the sector.

One of these sessions took a close look at the 'Policy Imperatives for Improved Development of the Power Sector'. Attended by decision makers in the power sector, the session sought to develop an action agenda for faster and comprehensive development of the sector.

The session on 'Technology Interventions for Better Reliability' scanned and studied some emerging trends in technology and solutions needed to address customers' expectations as well as improve the customer-centricity of the power business.

The final session-'Sustainable Business Models for Renewable Energy', saw a panel discussion featuring some leading players from the renewable sector. The chief aim was to offer an implementable way forward for the industry and know how the best practices across the country, with low gestation periods, could be put to use for making the overall energy basket more competitive and effective.

(Posted on 19-09-2013)