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MNRE plans to set up company for generating power using biomass

Rutam Vora  |  Mumbai/ Ahmedabad 

In a bid to encourage renewable energy sources of power generation in India, the union ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) is looking at setting up a company for biomass-based power generation and promotion on the lines of Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI).

The proposed company would focus on promotion and generation of biomass-based power and execute projects in the country. "We are focusing to promote biomass-based power generation in the country. For this, the ministry is planning to set up a company for biomass energy same as we set up SECI last year," said Tarun Kapoor, joint secretary, MNRE on the sidelines of 11th Green Power conference in Ahmedabad on Thursday.

According to MNRE data, currently biomass availability in India is estimated at about 500 millions tones per year, while studies have estimated surplus biomass availability at about 120–150 million tones per annum, covering agricultural and forestry residues corresponding to a potential of about 18,000 Mw of power generation.

It may be noted here that MNRE had set up Solar Energy Corporation of India on September 2011 under section-25 of the Companies Act, 1956 with an aim to set up state-sponsored solar power projects in the country.

"Of the over 200,000 Mw of installed power generation capacities in India, nearly 12 per cent or 25,000 Mw is generated from renewable sources. Looking at the growing need for electricity and issues faced in the conventional power generation, we need to increase our focus on renewable sources," said Kapoor.

The ministry has set a target to achieve 30,000 Mw of renewable energy generation capacities in India in the current five-year plan. However, the estimated investment is pegged at Rs 2.5 lakh crore. The ministry is exploring possibilities of setting up a fund aimed at renewable energy generation. "We are also looking to set up a fund for renewable energy generation," said the official.

Also, the ministry is working on a possibility to offer special subsidy for rooftop solar projects. "Rooftop solar projects has to take off in such a manner that people can generate power for their own use from their rooftops and sell the surplus power directly into the grid, without storing in batteries. For this, we are coming out with a separate subsidy scheme to give a push to rooftops," he said.

According to him, cost of solar rooftops would be around Rs 8 to 9 per unit and with subsidy, it can come down to Rs 5 to 6 per unit.

It may be noted here that Gujarat has already started a pilot project for rooftop solar power generation in the state capital Gandhinagar with generation capacity of 5 Mw on a public-private partnership model.

Meanwhile, the state government is also looking at spreading the project in other cities and towns of the state. "We are working with 20 municipalities and seven municipal corporations in the state to roll out the rooftop solar power generation projects. We are aiming at solar power generation to the tune of 100-200 Mw from this initiative," said D P Joshi, director, Gujarat Energy Development Agency (GEDA) during the conference.

On the solar energy front, few states including Gujarat, Rajasthan Maharashtra, Karnataka and Chhattisgarh were found to be doing well, while some others including Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have also taken up initiatives at their respective states, informed the central government official.

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First Published: Mon, July 09 2012. 00:39 IST