Stage set for largest renewable energy park - GulfToday

Stage set for largest renewable energy park

Meena Janardhan

Writer/Editor/Consultant. She has over 25 years of experience in the fields of environmental journalism and publishing.

Writer/Editor/Consultant. She has over 25 years of experience in the fields of environmental journalism and publishing.

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Picture used for illustrative purpose only.

A proposed hybrid park in Kutch, India, is ready to take off! Billed as the world’s largest renewable power generation project at a single location, the park has a total proposed capacity of about 28,000MW.

The ambitious Kutch Hybrid Energy Park project, which has been running more than two years behind schedule, will be put on fast track after the intervention of the Central Government. The state government of Gujarat has decided to expedite the process of land acquisition for renewable energy project. It has recently begun the process of allotment of about 50,000 hectares of land to various power-producing companies for developing a mix of wind and solar projects.

The solar and wind energy park, which on completion is expected to generate close to 41.5 GW of renewable power, is high on the agenda of the Prime Minister’s Office, and now for the state government as well. It is said that the project is also attractive because of easier access to land, availability of transmission infrastructure, and importantly, assured demand for power because of the level of industrialization of the state.

The objective of the hybrid park is to maximize utilisation of both land and transmission network, Gujarat energy minister Saurabh Patel said. He pointed out that Gujarat came out with India’s first state-specific solar policy and planned innovative projects like the first megawatt-scale canal rooftop project on Narmada canal. The state also set up the country’s largest solar park at Charanka near Patan way back in 2011. The success of the solar rooftop project has become a model for other states.

Patel added that the state government has chalked out plans to draw huge investments in the renewable energy sector over the next five years. The investment of transmission will be made by Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (PGCIL) as 50% of the power generated in the park will be given to other states.

The park will house a mix of wind and solar projects of green power companies like Adani Green Energy Limited (AGEL), Sarjan Realities, Gujarat Industries Power Company Ltd (GIPCL), Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Ltd (GSECL) and National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC).

According to Mongabay-India, at present (till August 31, 2020), India’s installed capacity of renewable energy is 88,793.43 MW and the country has a target of 175,000 MW of renewable power by 2022. Though India has made significant progress in renewable power installation over the past few years, the growth is still slow compared to the target. For instance, of the targeted 175,000 MW about 100,000 MW is expected from solar power. Of the 100,000 MW solar power, about 40,000 MW is targeted from the solar rooftop but so far only about 6,000 MW of solar rooftop has been achieved.

Another such project, the 7.5GW Leh-Kargil project, is also going through the approval process. The two projects will add nearly 50 GW of renewable energy helping the government keep track of its renewable energy target for 2022 and beyond.

Mongabay-India also reports that environmentalists working in the region stress that though renewable projects are better than other infrastructure or power projects, they could have serious environmental and land issues and called for critical examination. Renewable sector experts concede that environmental concerns are legitimate but renewable projects are the best bet right now. They noted that evacuation of renewable power generated is also an important point that requires attention.

Renewable energy projects are being pushed as a solution for avoiding ecological impacts of fossil fuels-based power projects. However, environmentalists and experts believe renewable energy projects including solar power projects can have severe land, environmental issues and social issues. In 2017, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) had said that the area being considered for such projects should not involve wetlands, agriculture land, ecologically sensitive areas or areas with rich biodiversity. Several regulations and guidelines have been identified for the wind power sector to avoid damage to avifauna.

Experts say that evacuation of green power is also an important factor with renewable power projects that are installed in far-flung areas. However, they note that over the years the authorities have put in place several policies and regulations to ensure smoother evacuation.

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