Monday, Dec 15, 2008,
Business Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Chennai, Dec. 14 Every State must work out an
integrated energy plan for the next 20-25 years, not just on how
it is going to meet its electricity needs but also at the transportation
sector, according to Mr G.M. Pillai, Director-General, World Institute
of Sustainable Energy, a Pune-based not-for-profit organisation
working in the renewable energy sector.
According to him, the energy requirements and
the options need to be studied in detail and a scenario worked
out for the next 25 years.
The World Institute of Sustainable Energy (WISE)
is working on integrated energy planning for Karnataka, Rajasthan
and Maharashtra in a project funded by the British Foreign Office.
WISE, Mr Pillai said, submitted a proposal to
conduct the study for five States, including Tamil Nadu and Andhra
Pradesh, and in the first phase the 18-month study for the three
States was approved. The study would look at all energy options,
including bio-fuels for electricity generation.
“Every State has to come up with this kind of
an integrated study, otherwise we will be caught by surprise,”
One area that Mr Pillai would like States to look
at seriously for power generation was solar.
Although it might appear an expensive option now,
large-scale projects would bring down the costs. A criticism against
solar projects was that it was water-intensive.
However, new technologies – such as Dish Stirling
engine technology – were emerging that did not require water.
An American company, Infinia Corporation, that
offers this technology had set up an office in Delhi and had even
booked a few orders, he said.
The 56-year-old Mr Pillai, a 1976 batch IAS officer
of the Maharashtra cadre, feels that solar power has a major role
to play in India.
“I agree it is expensive today,” he says, but
suggests that States, especially highly industrialised ones such
as Tamil Nadu, should put up pilot scale plants with Government
“Gujarat and Rajasthan put together have 2.15
lakh sq km of desert; 20 per cent of that can generate about 4
lakh MW of solar power,” he told Business Line in Chennai recently.
“I am confident that solar can power the entire
northern region in future,” he adds.
Mr Pillai, who had a long tenure at the Maharashtra
Energy Development Agency, a State Government agency that looks
after the renewable energy sector, is on a five-year deputation
with WISE, an institute he helped establish, since April 2004.
WISE has been at the forefront of pushing for
a separate legislation for the renewable energy sector, including
preparing a draft legislation after extensive consultations and
discussions and building public opinion for a national law.
Asked about the proposed renewable energy law,
Mr Pillai said the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy had constituted
a technical committee to study the proposed legislation. It had
also appointed legal advisors. He hoped that early next year,
the draft would be finalised and presented in Parliament.
Where is the need for a separate legislation for
the renewable energy sector when an Electricity Act is in place?
“We need an integrated energy planning for the future. The Electricity
Act does not talk about that,” he said. The proposed RE law would
cover all aspects – hydrogen cells, bio-fuels, rural electrification,
solar and wind. There were no conflicts with the Electricity Act.
“It is a comprehensive, futuristic legislation,” he said.
He said that WISE had held extensive consultations,
studied renewable energy legislations in other countries and documented
over 15,000 papers before finalising the draft RE law. It had
taken the help of the National Law School, Bangalore, before making
public the draft. After that it circulated the draft to nearly
300 MPs, a number of whom responded supporting such a legislation.
With the RE law in place, he was confident that
there would be a change in mindset towards the sector. Individual
States could also enact similar legislations, even though the
federal law would be binding on all, Mr Pillai said.