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West Bengal makes it a must for solar panels on highrise buildings

According to reports, after dillydallying for nearly a year, the state government on Wednesday approved the policy on generating power from renewable energy sources.

This makes it compulsory for multi-storey buildings to have solar panels installed on the rooftops for power generation. According to state power minister Manish Gupta, building rules in the state have to be amended to make this happen and talks are on with the urban development and environment departments.

Power generated has to be transferred to grid and residents will draw electricity from it. The additional amount will be adjusted in their monthly bills.

Gupta said that according to the energy regulatory commission, by March 31, 2013, generation from renewable sources has to be 260 MW from the current 193.64 MW, which is the installed capacity.

Total potential of power generation, including all sources of renewable energy, by 2022 is 2206 MW. Target cumulative capacity at the end of the 12th year plan, by 2017, has been set at 587 MW and by the end of the 13th plan, in 2022, is set at 1865 MW. If the target is not met, then there will be heavy penalty.

The policy, cleared on Wednesday, was prepared by an expert committee appointed by the state government with members like S P Gon Chaudhuri, former adviser to the state power department, among others.

Sources to be tapped are wind power, mini and small hydro power, waste gas from steel plant and coke plants (cogeneration sources), rice husk (bio mass), municipal waste and solar power.

For those setting up renewable sources of power, there will be huge financial benefits from the government – the generated power units would be purchased at double the actual cost.

PricewaterhouseCoopers was a consultant for preparing the draft of the policy and it was funded by the British government’s development aid agency Department for International Development ( DFID).

It took ten months to prepare the draft and it was finally submitted to the government in April. On Wednesday, the policy was cleared by the state cabinet committee on infrastructure and industry.

The policy has both long-term and short-term objectives along with the scope, focus areas and strategies.

West Bengal Green Energy Development Corporation (WBGEDC) will be the nodal agency to facilitate investment in renewable energy and grid connected renewable energy units in the state. West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency (WBREDA) will promote new renewable energy technologies through ‘demonstration’ projects.

The policy also has instructions on how the infrastructure could be set up for all renewable energy sources like solar, wind, biomass, small hydro etc. It also lays down how land could be used for a renewable energy project. “Permission to use vested land will be for 30 years or the time till which the project will function, whichever is less.”

The vested land should be handed over to WBGEDC, which will lease the land to developers. Allotment would be cancelled if the project does not begin within stipulated time.

Whoever acquires the land – the developer or the government – shall offer 1% of the project cost for rehabilitating those who are displaced from the project area and for local development like setting up schools and hospitals.

Also, a center for excellence under WBREDA would be set up in association with prominent state institutions. The Centre will offer training to those employed in the sector and also offer courses for skill development.

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