Punjab is going to get investment in clean energy. It has requests from nearly 1,100 households to generate own power from the sun and even foreign companies have offered support, renewable energy minister Bikram Singh Majithia has claimed. Excerpts from the interview:
Q: Where is Punjab placed as far as solar generation is concerned?
A: "Despite getting lesser solar radiation than Gujarat and Rajasthan, Punjab doesn't want to miss the solar-energy revolution bus. We took a head start in 2012, and regular follow-up has helped us make rapid strides. We are ahead of most states and have more than 200-megawatt generating capacity, which we expect to expand to 1,000 MW by 2017.
Q: What's the way ahead?
A: Under the net metering policy announced in November 2014, we are going to involve every household in generating green power. We plan to use our 5,000-kilometre-long network of canals to generate solar power by installing photovoltaic cells over them.
Q: How is the response?
A: Even the industrial giants that are not in the power business have shown interest in solar-energy generation. We have requests from nearly 1,100 households to generate own power under the net-metering model. Even companies from France, Germany and Israel have come to us and offered support.
Q: How is it going to benefit the common man?
A: Apart from conserving the environment, it will have benefits for all of us. We are trying to involve farmers, who make up 60% of our population, and help them made some extra income. We offer them market rent with 5% annual escalation for a long-term basis as incentive for installing solar-power generating plants over their lands. It will not interrupt farming, and is going to be a mass movement soon. PEDA-approved land lease policy for setting up solar-energy farms has already attracted owners of 3,500 acres combined.