Higher RPOs to help India meet 175 GW renewable target: Greenpeace

Greenpeace India said renewable purchase obligation (RPO) target of 21 per cent by 2022 will help India meet 175 GW renewable energy goal by 2022, but RPO compliance by discoms is critical.

“The Union government’s decision to increase RPO of state distribution companies from 17 per cent in 2019 to 21 per cent by 2022 has been welcomed by Greenpeace India, while also warning that ensuring the Discoms compliance is critical. The RPO target will help India meet its 175GW renewable energy target under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change,” a Greenpeace India statement said.

“Most state Discoms have failed to comply with existing RPO targets and do not seem to be serious about making the shift to clean energy. “According to a 2017 Greenpeace analysis, only 6 states were able to meet the RPO targets, so it’s great that the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has now established an RPO Compliance Cell, though there is no clarity yet on what penalties could be imposed for non-compliance,” Pujarini Sen, Climate and Energy Campaigner, Greenpeace India, said in the statement.

In order to realistically meet the new RPOs, state and private Distribution Companies (Discoms) will need to implement new & creative renewables projects and not rely on large solar or wind farms alone, it said.

The MNRE’s recently announced Kusum scheme (Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan) to promote solar arrays connected to irrigation pumps can play a key role in helping states fulfil their RPOs, it added.

“The Kusum scheme will empower farmers to generate and sell clean electricity to the grid, generating additional income for the farmer, while also helping Discoms meet their RPO targets and reducing the burden on Discoms to supply subsidised electricity to the agricultural sector. It’s a win-win for farmers, Discoms and state governments,” says Sen.

As an example, Gujarat’s Discom MGVCL could be earning up to Rs 2.97 lakhs per year from just 100 kW of solar pumps via the renewable energy credits these generate; they will save another Rs 6 lakhs in avoided costs by not having to supply farmers using these pumps with electricity, according to a recent study of the Dhundi pilot project in Central Gujarat. Grid-connected solar pumps have the potential to be a “remunerative crop” for both farmers and Discoms, it said.

The finance minister had mentioned the grid-connected solar pump scheme in his speech during the Union Budget in February this year. Minister of Power R K Singh had also reportedly said that the scheme will be rolled out in July, though disagreements with the Finance Ministry have also been reported, the statement added.