State aims big on non-conventional energy
The state government has formulated the first comprehensive policy on renewable energy and has aimed to produce 14,400 megawatt (MW) power through non-conventional sources. The district in western Maharashtra would benefit the most; considering that almost 50% of the state's potential sites for wind energy are here and the sugar mills can go for co-generation plants using bagasse.
The state has for the first time considered utilizing industrial waste to generate energy and plans to produce 7,500 MW solar energy. The state policy is in line with the Centre's goal of producing 175 gigawatt electricity using renewable energy resources by 2022. Maharashtra is aiming to achieve the target in next five years; beginning with the current 6,700 MW installed capacity of non-conventional power projects. The Maharashtra Energy Development Agency (MEDA) believes that the policy would bring a change in the mindset of traditional energy development methods.
Industrial experts have welcomed the policy and highlighted the need for ease of doing business and speedy implementation. They also suggested the government to maximise utilization of the solar power resources considering the huge potential in the state. "This is indeed first-of-its-kind policy consisting all the six major non-conventional energy sources. At present, we have an installed capacity of 6,700 MW and are aiming to add 14,400 MW in the next five years. The target is huge; however, it is achievable as the policy has been planed meticulously," said S A Patil, general manager of MEDA's power generation department.
For instance, since the last decade, sugar factories in the state have experienced the benefits of cogeneration plants and the agency can add 700 MW cogeneration capacity in next few months.
Patil said the focus of the policy is on increasing the solar power capacity and creating a new avenue for energy generation from industrial waste. "At certain point, we have to turn to solar and waste-to-energy projects. We believe that the state will lead the country in implementation of the non-conventional energy," he added.
Industry expects more than the policy and highlights the need effective implementation of the policy on the line of measures taken by Gujarat, Karnataka and Rajasthan. "Any comprehensive policy on the green energy is a welcome step. If we compare Maharashtra with the other three states, we are lagging behind in implementation. Karnataka has implemented reverse metering; means your meter will run in opposite direction the moment you start using renewable energy," said Gaurav Malu, director of the Renewgreen Private Limited, Kolhapur.
He sees huge scope for developing solar and wind energy projects in the state; particularly in southern districts. "We have radiation throughout the year and still have not utilised our solar potential. Now, we have to see how the policy gets translated into reality," he added. According to MEDA, the state's wind power potential is 5, 439 MW. The National Institute of Wind Energy has identified 40 sites in Maharashtra, where wind energy can be tapped. Six of these sites are in Kolhapur, Sangli has 7, while Satara has highest 11 sites. In total, almost 50% of the state's wind energy potential is in southern Maharashtra.