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‘Kerala must plan switchover to 100% renewable energy’

According to reports, Kerala must plan for a transition to 100 per cent renewable energy for sustainable development and energy security.

The State has meagre fossil fuel resources and most of the hydro potential is already harnessed, says G.M. Pillai, Founder Director-General of Pune-based World Institute of Sustainable Energy.

He was here to attend a function to officially release ‘The Energy Report-Kerala’ brought out by the Institute in partnership with WWF-India.

The report maps energy requirements up to 2050 in order to assess the feasibility of meeting 100 per cent of the energy demand through renewable resources.

Emissions from coal or gas-based power projects may adversely affect both the forests and the fragile marine ecosystems and could also pose a public health hazard.

Given such constraints, the State faces a threat to its energy security, Pillai said. On the other hand, most renewable energy technologies have low environmental impacts.

The Energy Report assesses that the State has a potential for 60,000 MW in renewable energy across multiple sources.

If only the State manages to convert at least 20 per cent, it could rest assured of what Pillai described as orderly development and sustainable future.

Alternate energy is a misnomer, according to him. What we would like to call as ‘alternate’ will turn out to be the ‘only’ choice, going forward.

It has been acknowledged that changeover from an existing regime of energy consumption to the next happens in cycles of 30 years.

This is why the report looked at the likely scenario emerging in 2050, Pillai explained. “We need to start planning right now,” he said.

According to the Report, the largest potential among individual sources of renewable energy is in rooftop photovoltaic in which Kerala has announced major initiatives.

Rooftop PV (domestic, or flats and individual dwelling units) has a potential of 13,079 MW and rooftop PV (institutional, or offices and public institutions) has 18,066 MW.

The next big source is offshore wind (13,447 MW), but this has not been tried out in the country; it is capital-intensive and therefore generates costly power.

But it is a major resource in Europe, with the UK and Denmark topping the list in terms of generation.

The Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has appreciated the prospects in India and is expected to come out with a policy on offshore wind energy by March, Pillai said.

Grid-tied solar PV over wasteland (4,273 MW) and grassland (2,543 MW), too, are dependable resources. Floating PV panels (in rivers, reservoirs: 3,845 MW) are another.

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