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Canals to harness 1,000 Mw green energy in Punjab

Business Standard:  July, 2015

Chandigarh: Punjab plans to harness the extensive canal network in the state for generation of an estimated 1,000 Mw of solar power. Punjab Minister of New and Renewable Energy Bikramjit Singh Majithia told Business Standard the state has been allocated 20 Mw of solar power generation by the government under the pilot project, for which a grant of Rs 3 crore per Mw would be provided. The cost of canal top solar power generation is Rs 10 crore per megawatt. Projects worth 5 Mw under the tendering process would be allocated under a build-operate-own (BOO) basis.

Punjab has a robust 5,000 km of extensive canal network, and the Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA) is aggressively mobilising investors to harness solar power.

Punjab was also awarded the best performing state by the government of India for renewable capacity building for solar mission.

The state leapfrogged from 9 Mw in March 2012 to 210 Mw in March 2014, and has a target to generate 541 Mw of solar power by March 2016. The construction of various projects is underway.

“Since land cost was a major hiccup for solar power projects, we amended existing policies and offered incentives to lure investors. Solar projects in Punjab are exempted from pollution clearance, CLU charges, entry tax on equipment, registry and stamp duty charges on purchase and lease of land. Projects have been put up at the international border with Pakistan where industrial development is virtually nil. This has not only increased the return on land to farmers of backward areas, but has been backed by state-of-the-art infrastructure,” said Majithia.

The non-resident Indians (NRIs) from the US and Slovakia, with roots in Punjab, have also invested Rs 655 crore in 91 Mw projects, out of which 42 Mw has already been commissioned.

The state has mobilised Rs 4,000 crore of investment in solar energy, and projects  worth Rs 1,500 crore have been commissioned. The remaining Rs 2,500 crore would be commissioned by March 2016.

Essel Renewable Energy Limited, Azure Power, Welspun Solar Punjab Power Limited, Solairedirect Energy India (a French company) are among the 23 investors in solar power generation in the state.

While the state has a huge potential for bio mass based power generation due to agrarian economy there is an ample scope for bio mass based power generation. The GOI, according to Majithia,  should provide better incentives as the farmers burn the bio mass (wheat straw and paddy husk) that is an economical wastage and adds to global warming.