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Bihar leads in constructive policy on renewable energy

According to reports, in the backdrop of a persistent power crisis and raging debate on lack of coal linkages, Greenpeace has released its assessment report on Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) titled Powering Ahead on Renewables: Leaders and Laggards, which ranks all the states on their performance in renewable energy supply and calls for revision of RPO mechanism based on equity principle.

Bihar takes the lead on a constructive policy on renewable energy. Though Bihar achieved only 40 % of its target, it emerged as leader in terms of driving a constructive policy for renewables. Bihar displayed astuteness by accepting the fact that decentralized renewable energy can power its rural areas that do not have access to centralized grid based energy. The state faced an energy deficit of about 2,940 million units in 2012, report said.

  In all, out of 29 states, 22 failed to meet their RPO targets which led to loss of more than 25% electricity that was expected to be generated from renewable energy sources in 2012.

Very few states have demonstrated the leadership in implementing the RPO framework and fulfilling their obligation on renewables. The north eastern state of Meghalaya and Nagaland, the hill states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh and the southern coastal states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have clearly taken the lead in not only meeting their RPO targets but also generating over and above the targets.

Despite a good potential for solar energy, the National Capital (New Delhi) fared among the worst with not even one per cent achievement. Regulators failed to penalize or implement the directives of RPO in Delhi and in other key states like Maharashtra and Punjab, which fell short by about 50%.

Notably, the performance on renewable energy in the three major coal bearing states of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand was in contrast with the former taking the lead and the latter two falling far behind.

The report, a joint effort of Greenpeace and “Infraline Energy”, highlights the inconsistency between national renewable energy targets set by National Action Plan on Climate Change and the RPO targets fixed by state electricity regulators. The overall cumulative targets set by various state regulators is 5.44%, whereas the national target is 7% resulting in a deficit of 1.56%, which translates into nearly 14,268 million units of electricity from renewable energy projects.

The report recommends the same criteria be used for setting new RPO targets that are ambitious, equitable and viable but mandatory for every state, said Rohit Khati, energy researcher, Infraline Energy.

The report further recommends fiscal and policy measures to promote renewable energy projects over conventional electricity. To improve the share of renewable energy in electricity grid for its distribution and supply and fight the pricing perception barrier, higher amount of renewable energy should be taken on priority basis from renewable-rich states and open up proper interstate transmission.

Recently, the ministry of power, government of India, had also conducted its first Integrated Rating of State Distribution Utilities with an aim to facilitating a uniform and harmonized approach to rate them. Out of 39 distribution utilities, Bihar State Power (Holding) Company Limited (BSPHCL) has been rated “B” and stood at 26th position.

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