Kerala has been trailing other States in harnessing renewable energy, be it wind or solar.
The wind energy options remain underutilised. The nodal agency for the renewable energy programme, ANERT, has been providing support to conduct studies on the wind speed in potential areas, but had no wherewithal to install windmills. The private players which installed a few wind turbines in Palakkad came under severe criticism because of misuse of land. While the revenue authorities failed to clear the mess arising out of illegal occupation of land in tribal areas, it also sent a wrong message to prospective players in the wind energy sector. Lack of a clear cut policy on purchase of power generated from the windmills also hampered the windmill project. Ramakkalmedu in Idukki is considered a rich ground for harnessing wind energy; but a lot of focused attention is required to tap the source.
With the nation facing energy crunch, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy sought to utilise the US support for development of solar energy in the country. Liberal dose of subsidy was being offered for new initiatives in solar energy. Kerala’s programme for harnessing solar energy in the domestic sector was conceived against this background.
While the programme had set goals in right earnest, the process of selection of agencies to implement the scheme did not match the motto. Several complaints had cropped up from domestic agencies engaged in the renewable sector. Even companies that had effectively executed solar energy projects could not gain entry into the list of players selected for executing the programme.
The scenario was brought to light by The Hindu in a report published in these columns on March 4 (Rooftop solar scheme on shaky ground). The report had pointed out that unless the nodal agency plays a vigilant role, the innovative scheme would go haywire and destroy the faith people would have in new technologies in the solar power sector.
Several agencies selected under the scheme were located outside the State and their franchisees were supposed to operate the scheme. The sceptical side of the operation was yet to be unfolded. Meanwhile, the developments in the sector had played havoc with the implementation of the scheme. It would take a while before the scheme takes firm ground. Who would be able to reaffirm the lost faith remains a million dollar question. It would also take considerable time for the dust raised by the scandal in the solar sector to settle.