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Malay Kr. De, Principal Secretary, Power & NES Department, West Bengal said at the 4th Energy Conclave 2013 recently organized in Kolkata by the Eastern wing of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) that the state Government will make available grid-connected land for setting up renewable energy projects in the areas of solar and wind energy respectively at Kharagpur and Mandarmani. He said, “West Bengal will continue enjoy energy and have assured fuel linkages for forthcoming expansion plans.” De highlighted areas where West Bengal has progressed in the past decade and the reasons why it can be set as an example for other states of India. “We made a conscious departure from ultra-mega power projects and increased efficiency by having more discoms. This has increased efficiency in fluctuation and enhanced flexibility. We have absolutely no worry in the next 8-10 years,” said De said at the Inaugural Session of the Conclave. “No matter how big the demand is, West Bengal is comfortably placed. On the fuel front: we have ensured availability and ensured price. We also have captive coal mines. In terms of energy security, renewable, customer service, we have done exceedingly well,” added De. According to De, the state government is already working on renewable energy and the decision has been taken that all the important Government buildings would be having solar rooftops. Plans and modalities are being worked out so that New Town can be transformed into a Solar City. Few other locations have also been identified where this model can be experimented with. The event was attended by industry all stakeholders, namely policymakers, leading energy professionals, representatives from generation, transmission and distribution sectors, independent power producers, energy consultants/auditors, energy equipment manufacturers, etc. At the event, Tarun Kapoor, Joint Secretary MNRE, Government of India, speaking on the Union Government’s perspectives on Solar Mission, said, “Given that the country is in overall deficit, solar energy can make a perceptible difference. The equivalent energy potential is about 6,000 million GHh of energy per year.” Kapoor highlighted that although the initial set up might dig deep in the pocket, solar power is cost-effective in the long run. “The price of solar has come down drastically. It started with Rs 17, but now, if you look at new tenders, it’s only Rs 7-8 per kw,” he said. He also mentioned the “long-term benefits” of Solar-Thermal hybrid. “Currently, the cost is high, but it will come down soon. And if you make cost accounting, solar will be much cheaper 25 years from now.” According to him, solar-powered pumps are also going a long way in closing the demand-supply gap. “In Germany, rooftops contribute 70 percent of the 33,000 MW coming from solar. Please give up diesel and embrace solar,” he plead. In a presentation, Ashish Khanna, Leader-Energy, World Bank, made a brief on the power scenario in the country and outlined the global best practices. On the other hand, he also talked about some sustainable models and explained the World Bank’s funding norms. He explained how India has made rapid strides in the past few years in terms of capacity addition. “Of the current installed capacity (225 GW), about one-third has been added in the past 5 years. Moreover, it’s been a great PPP story with 55 GW added in 11th Five-Year Plan Period. The other notable achievement is the 1500 MW of grid connected solar generation capacity commissioned,” Khanna said. However, according to him, distribution continues to be the weakest link and heavy consumption by the farm sector is cumulating the losses. “This is effectively hurting the economy,” he said. Khanna listed the following reasons as the potential constraints to growth: • Inadequate and poor quality of supply • 8.7 percent energy deficit and 9% peak deficit • 60 percent of Indian firms rely on captive or back-up generation (20% in China) • More than 300 million still lack access • 33 percent (44 percent in rural areas) of households lack access to electricity • Poor commercial and technical performance • Average losses of 30% leading to annual losses of $ 23 billion during 2011-12 • Accumulated losses of 2% of Indian GDP as bad loans with Indian Banks being restructured • Untargeted subsidies (primarily to rich farmers) • Inadequate coal and gas supplies is leading to 40 GW of stranded new generation capacity “Under-performing Discoms have hit the ceiling in their debt sustainability limits. Over 70% of sector losses are contributed by distribution. Political and administrative commitment is essential, not just at the beginning, but right through,” he added. In his view, unbundling is insufficient. “Upfront visible improvements in quality of power supply and customer service is important to mobilize support for reforms. So is corporate governance and institutional reforms to ensure long term and sustainable development. Financial management and accountability are also essential,” Khanna explained. However, Khanna also said, “All remedies are homegrown. The private sector has to play bigger role and the public sector must join hands. The government’s role is to facilitate, inter-connect, formulate policies, make decisions and make sure how we fight our own battle and win.” Sudhir Deoras, Chairman, CII Eastern Region, said, “Power has to be there if we want to grow at 9 percent. The country is growing. So is the demand for power. It’s a formidable challenge for the country to close the gap between generation and demand.” “It’s time we reflected on whether we could sustain for long with the conventional way of producing power. Renewable energy requires a great push,” added Deoras, also the Managing Director of TRF Ltd. According to World Bank data, coal demand stepped up by 8 per cent in 11th plan and the trend is expected to continue. The expected coal shortage in 12th plan is around 28%. Deoras is positive that the Government’s power outlay being Rs 1.1 million crore and with some effective policies in place, the country will soon catch up. On the other hand, in the theme Address, Aloke Mookherjea, Past Chairman CII ER &Chairman Flakt India, stressed more on sustainability. “But,” Mookherjea said, “sustainability does not come from non-use, but prudent use of natural resources.” R N Sen, Chairman, Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) emphasized the need for greater integration between generators and distributors. “With the demand pattern being erratic, we have to have a holistic way,” he said. He thinks that managing surplus is a greater challenge than handling deficit. Aniruddha Basu, Managing Director, CESC Ltd. enumerated some key achievements made by the power sector. “First, the capacity addition has been three times since 1999. Second, there has been a revival of private participation in the distribution sector since the Enron debacle. Third, more people have access to power. Fourth, the Enactment electricity Act – it is a landmark Act. And fifth, the government’s emphasis on clean energy,” he said. Basu added, “Much of the capacity addition (63,000 mw) is coal based. In my view, renewable energy perfectly fills the demand-supply gap.” Subhas Sethi, Chairman, CII Energy Sub-Committee and Saugat Mukherjee, Regional Director, CII Eastern Region, were also present. The conclave also took a look at the Policy Imperatives for Improved Development of the Power Sector. The session was attended by important decision makers in the power sector and sought to develop an action plan for faster and comprehensive development of the power sector. The conclave had a separate session on Technology Interventions for Better Reliability which studied emerging trends in the technology and solutions which are required for addressing customers’ expectations as well as for improving the customer-centricity of the power business. The final session was on the Sustainable Business Models for Renewable Energy which saw panel discussions featuring important players from the renewable sector. The main aim was for offering ways forward for the industry and for the best practices across the globe, having low gestation periods, that can be put to use for making the overall energy basket more competitive and effective.
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