Renewable energy plants neglected by State

Non-conventional or renewable energy projects, which have become the topic of discussion these days following the acute crisis faced by the power sector, have not come up to the desired level in the State despite their vast potential.

The State is by far an underperformer when it comes to tapping the renewable energy when compared to neighbouring Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. This, according to experts, was primarily due to absence of foresight to exploit these sources for supplementing the power generation in the event of shortages.

Officials in AP Transco attribute lack of coordination between New & Renewable Development Corporation of AP (NREDCAP), nodal agency to facilitate establishment of these projects and Energy Department as reason for not realising the potential of renewable sources given a major thrust by the Centre in the new power policy. The absence of coordination has become a major impediment, crippling efforts to encourage these units.

As a result, the utilities are yet to decide on fixing tariff rate at which they have to purchase power generated by these plants. The officials’ claim that developers are hesitating to take up these plants on the ground that the present tariff is not “workable and viable” compared to other States, especially with particular reference to wind power. Several proposals to set up windmills continue to remain in cold storage.

After a reassessment, the overall wind and mini-hydel (based on irrigation canals) power potentialities of the State had been revised to 14,738 MW and 1,000 MW respectively. The achievement, however, is 330 MW of wind power (mostly Anantapur and Kurnool districts) and 100 MW through mini-hydel units. On the other hand, the combined installed capacity of the solar energy units could not exceed 20.5 MW while 86.6 MW is sanctioned to Andhra Pradesh by the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy.

Power generation from the plants operated with non-conventional fuels like biomass, industrial and municipal wastes, geo-thermal energy etc is found to be negligible grossly undermining the set targets. The total installed capacity created under wind, mini-hydel, biomass and other plants remains at 1100 MW in the State, indicating a dismal performance.