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Go green: new energy mantra

India has embarked on an ambitious mission of harnessing sunlight and wind to contribute at least five per cent power to the country’s energy basket, reports Chetan Chauhan.

delhi Updated: Feb 16, 2009 14:06 IST
Chetan Chauhan

India has embarked on an ambitious mission of harnessing sunlight and wind to contribute at least five per cent power to the country’s energy basket. The credit for this goes to awareness campaigns pitched by environmentalists and it’s also driven by the idea of making money through carbon credits.

Several states have taken steps in this direction. Last month, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi signed an agreement with several companies to provide solar lanterns. The companies will also register with United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to earn credits.

In Asansol, West Bengal, the country’s biggest solar energy power plant of 100 MW is coming up. “Till now solar captive power plants have been of one or two megawatts,” said an environment ministry official, who did not want to be named.

Such a big plant is a consequence of a recent notification by the Centre, where in for each unit of solar power, the government will pay Rs 15. Generation of a unit costs between Rs 15-20, says National Action Plan on Climate Change. And the West Bengal government was the first to use the barren mine land in Asansol to install a solar photovoltaic at an approximate cost of Rs 35 crore per megawatt, meaning a unit will cost Rs 15-20.

The change is also taking place at the community level. Last week, an NGO, Development Alternatives, handed over a solar power plant to villagers in Uttar Pradesh’s Jhansi district. “This village didn’t have power supply since Independence. Now, the villagers own a plant,” said Soma Biswas, in-charge of communication with the NGO.

The Centre wants renewable energy from sunlight and wind to constitute five per cent of the nation’s energy basket. But the stumbling block is over regulation at UNFCCC, said Amit Mitra, secretary FICCI. India has the largest number of projects registered but China has earned maximum carbon credits as its projects have a bigger scope of reducing green house gases.