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Powerless Gurgaon takes baby steps on solar energy

According to reports, last year, it was finally made clear by the state government that Haryana’s renewable energy future was never going to be as bright as the power authorities would still have you believe.

The state failed to achieve the targets for renewable energy generation that it had set itself – out of the 500 MW hoped for, only about 167 MW was generated here using green sources. And even today, according to government reports, only 195.9 MW of power is being generated as non-fossil-fuel energy.

The failure of the renewable energy dream here is seen by many to have been a failure largely restricted to the realm of solar energy, which gets the maximum amount of investment from the public sector in Gurgaon and other districts.

But a recent development promises a turnaround. The Union Cabinet, earlier this week, approved a proposal to set up the National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE) in the city. A research facility of this scale, according to officials, is sure to support the already existing – albeit rather meager – solar-power infrastructure here.

The new proposal is not so much establishing a new institute than converting scaling-up an old one. The Solar Energy Centre (SEC), which is located here on the Gurgaon-Faridabad road, will in effect be changed to a larger, more autonomous, and a better managed facility as per this proposal, and will now be known as the NISE.

According to S K Singh, a scientist at the solar centre, the Cabinet’s nod to the NISE has been a welcome step. “We are very hopeful that the NISE will help the solar research capacity here and will improve everything from management to research,” he said.

The SEC will officially become the NISE in only a few months from now, once the government’s approval orders are notified and implemented. “Within one week, we will have the notification ready. And within the next two or three months, the move should be implemented,” Singh said.

More autonomy would mean more spending power, or as the officials here call it, better ‘decision-making ability.’ “Everything will change, and we can expect bigger research and development projects in the field of solar power here soon,” said another SEC official.

In the past year, as the department of renewable energy’s latest figures show, there has been no real progress in the field of solar power in Haryana. Solar photo-voltaic energy generation in the state is the same as it was last year at a measly 7.8 MW.

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