Draft renewable energy Act: strengths and gaps

Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) assesses the draft National Renewable Energy Act of Government of India and makes recommendations

By DTE Staff
Published: Thursday 16 July 2015

Draft Act includes benefits for the local community

The draft Act mentions that there will be a process for an informed local consent for projects through a letter. It also mentions plans to devise a structure for revenue/benefit-sharing with the community.

Energy access given special emphasis in draft Act

Distributed renewable energy generation and energy access have been given special emphasis in the Act along with promotion of decentralised (small-scale units) and stand-alone renewable energy applications (such as heating and cooling) in rural and urban areas. The issues with large-scale deployment of distributed renewable energy have been addressed in the draft, especially related to grid connectivity and technical and safety measures. The draft also mentions that these decentralised distributed generation RE plants can charge the consumers a reasonable tariff.

"The word 'reasonable' leaves the matter hanging as it is to be decided by the developer," says CSE Deputy Director General Chandra Bhushan.

More clarity is needed on renewable energy investment zones

The ministry plans to identify and develop renewable energy investment zones to meet the goals that would be mentioned under the National Renewable Energy Development Plan. The term "RE (renewable energy) investment zones" have been mentioned throughout the draft, but the draft fails to address what it means—whether they are physical zones like solar parks or special economic zones or they are areas of project development like plants and transmissions.

Draft expands components of RPO

The draft has expanded the components that can be part of the renewable purchase obligation (RPO), a small percentage of power consumption has to be procured from renewable energy sources. All large-scale renewable energy generation and off-grid systems based on renewable energy providing electricity or equivalent services would be eligible to meet RPO. A penalty has been announced for non-compliance as well.

Draft has only few indicators to ensure environment protection

The draft specifies that the best practices for streamlining project permits, clearances and institutional structure will be adopted. “Although the draft says that renewable energy development should take place in a sustainable manner, there are very few indicators to ensure environmental protection,” said Bhushan. It does not explicitly say how ecologically sensitive areas will be treated or how Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) will be done for RE projects.

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