According to reports, with controversy dogging large dams in the northeast, the buzz for renewable energy and small hydro-power projects is getting louder in the region.
Opposition from various civil society groups citing environmental impact of large hydro-power projects, delay in clearance and their completion, have prompted the governments of NE states and investors to explore the untapped potential in the renewable energy and small hydro-power sectors.
At the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) conclave here on Thursday, chief minister Tarun Gogoi told investors and experts that energy security is the key to the state’s development. He emphasized that the renewable energy sector can significantly contribute to the state’s energy security.
“The investment scenario in Assam has improved and we want investors to explore the renewable energy sector,” said the chief minister. Gogoi feels that the renewable energy would not only help in meeting the state’s energy requirements, but also help improve the socio-economic conditions of the rural people.
At the Assocham’s meeting on the theme “empowering Assam from deficiency to abundance — tapping small hydro, biomass and solar potential”, Assam Electricity Regulatory Commission (AERC) chairman N K Das said the state has already formulated a policy for small hydro-power development in 2007.
“Now, the investors should give a serious thought on how to harness hydro-power and renewable energy potential in the state. The impact of climate change has made it all the more important to go for renewable energy,” Das said.
All hydro-power projects, with an installed capacity of up to 25 MW, are eligible under the Assam small hydro-power development policy.
The Assam Power Generation Corporation Limited (APGCL) has identified 90 small hydro-power project sites with a total capacity of 1,48,500KW in the state.
Assocham said Assam’s peak-hour demand at present has reached 1,300MW, while 800MW is sourced from central power projects in the northeast, eastern region and APGCL. The APDCL has to depend on bilateral trading, power banking and power exchange to overcome the shortfall. It said the state has the immense potential to mitigate the deficiency by harnessing non-conventional energy sources and small hydro-power projects.
Recently, Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma said at the North East Clean Tech Summit here that his government is looking for partners to invest in renewable energy and small hydro-power sector.
Mukul said his government has initiated the process of wind-mapping to assess the potential in this sector. “Meghalaya experiences a strong breeze which blows from the Bay of Bengal via Bangladesh. We need to tap this energy,” he had said.