The promulgation of the Electricity Act, (EA), 2003, has enabled Indian electricity regulators to play a crucial role in bringing about a paradigm shift in the sector through proactive actions to promote renewables. Recognising the need to take an independent, knowledge-based review of the achievements of the regulators, and analyse the shortcomings and barriers in regulation so as to chart the way forward towards an 'electricity secure' future, WISE organised 'RE Regulation India 2010', a two-day conference on 4–5 February 2010 at Le Meridien, Pune.

The inaugural session was attended by top-level officials belonging to the regulatory and renewable energy sectors in India. These included Dr Pramod Deo, Chairperson, Central Electricity Regulatory Commission(CERC); Tulsi Tanti, Founder Chairman and Managing Director, Suzlon Energy Ltd; Ajai Vikram Singh, former Secretary, Ministries of New and Renewable Energy and Defence; V Subramanian, former Secretary, MNRE and Secretary General, Indian Wind Energy Association (InWEA); B K Das, Chairperson, Orissa Electricity Regulatory Commission; V P Raja, Chairperson, Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission; and G M Pillai, founder Director General, WISE.

In his welcome address, G M Pillai pointed out that it is energy and not climate change which is the prime mover for development of renewables. He lauded the efforts of the Indian regulator in turning around the RE sector and playing the role of ‘developer’ rather than ‘regulator’ only. Stating that the next two decades would be extremely crucial for transitioning to a RE-based economy through accelerated deployment of renewables, he urged the government to give serious attention to this sector. This he added, was absolutely necessary to meet the objectives of the recently announced National Solar Mission. Dr Deo who delivered the keynote address applauded WISE’s initiative in organising this unique conference and bringing regulatory issues to the fore. Throwing light on India’s grim future energy scenario, he said that various forecasts estimate that by 2031–32, India would need to import about 90 percent of oil, upto 50 percent of natural gas, and between 11–45 percent of coal to achieve a GDP of 8 percent per annum. RE can play a crucial role in bringing down the imports and ensuring a clean economy.

He emphasised on the importance of policy and regulatory interventions in augmenting the development of renewables, focusing on the various initiatives taken by CERC. These include regulations on tariff for various RE technologies which are preferential over conventional sources in terms of higher return, shorter loan repayment period, and higher interest on loan. In addition, CERC has also decided to make suitable amendments to the Indian Electricity Grid Code to provide appropriate solutions for scheduling electricity generated from wind and solar energy. Dr Deo said that the state initiative of setting a renewable purchase obligation (RPO) target and the recently announced renewable energy certificate (REC) mechanism would both pave the way for RE development. All these measures, he opined, would definitely unleash supply side response and ensure advancement of technologies and bring about grid parity, eventually leading to mainstreaming of renewables.

Mr Tanti, in his address said that world over, several enabling policies have been put in place to support development of renewables, and India needs to follow suit in order to turn our energy intensive, business-as-usual economy into a low-carbon and sustainable economy. According to him, the wind sector can play a crucial role in three major areas: ensuring energy security, providing electricity at a competitive rate, and increasing the number of green jobs. He emphasised that regulatory measures such as RPO, feed-in tariffs, and generation-based incentives (GBI) are a critical driver in accomplishing all these objectives. He hoped that the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) would provide the required impetus to fulfill the goal of ‘renewables for all’ in the near future.

About 200 participants including senior functionaries from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and state regulatory commissions, renewable industry professionals, senior government policy makers, utility managers, financiers and consultants attended the two-day conference. The sessions discussed diverse aspects such as RE technology development, RE connectivity and transmission, RE-based micro-generation and regulation, etc. Speakers at the conference included noted national and international energy and policy experts such as Dr Benjamin K Sovacool, Asst. Professor, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore; S P Gon Chaudhuri, MD, West Bengal Green Energy Development Corporation Ltd; D V Giri, Chairman, Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers' Association; Alok Kumar, IAS, Secretary, Central Electricity Regulatory Commission; A Velayutham, Former Member, Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission, etc.

The conference ended with the speakers deliberating on various issues that need to be worked out to streamline renewable energy regulation in India, such as preparing a regulatory road map for achieving the targets envisaged under the National Solar Mission, regulatory support for development of RE based micro-generation systems, inclusion of small-scale distributed RE and off-grid RE technologies under the REC mechanism, etc.