Karnataka’s renewable energy capacity is slightly more than half of its total electricity generation capacity

Karnataka has become a big draw for the renewable energy industry. The State already has a 15,900 MW of renewable energy capacity, including 5,150 MW of wind and 7,500 MW of solar. But this number is set to grow, given the investor interest in the State. 

At Windergy 2022, a conference-cum-expo event of the wind industry that took place in New Delhi last week, nine renewable energy companies said they were interested in setting up 9,218 MW of capacity, investing ₹61,227 crore for that purpose. 

Among them are ReNew Power (1,578 MW), Azure Power (1,700 MW), O2 Power (1,240 MW) and Torrent Power (750 MW). BusinessLine learns that while these are ‘expressions of interest’, many of these projects are already underway. 

For example, Balram Mehta, Chief Operating Officer, ReNew Power, said the company has 950 MW of projects (wind and solar) under construction. “Our plan is to do another 2 GW,” he said. Torrent and O2 Power have also said that they would implement their planned projects. 

Wind & Solar capacity addition between 2016-17 & 2021-22 (till Oct) 

State Wind Solar Total (in MW)
Karnataka 2,170  7,353  9,523 
Gujarat  5,004    4,955 9,959 
Tamil Nadu  2,233  3,647  5,880 
Rajasthan  332    7,565 7,897 
AP + Telangana  2,715   7,296 10,011 

Today, thermal (mainly coal) caters to only a third of the state’s demand; wind, solar and hydro take care of the rest. Because of this mix, “Karnataka has not had a single hour of power-cut due to coal shortage,” G Kumar Naik, Additional Chief Secretary to Government of Karnataka and Chairman of three electricity distribution companies, BESCOM, CESC and HESCOM, said while speaking at Windergy 2022. 

Naik observed the State still has a huge untapped potential. MNRE figures show that the State’s wind power capacity is 1,24,155 MW (at a height of 120 meters; more at higher levels) and solar power capacity 24,700 MW.

According to UB Reddy, a wind industry veteran, energy companies are rushing to Karnataka as Gujarat has refused to part with its lands (for projects won in central auctions) and there is a scarcity of good wind sites in Tamil Nadu.

He further notes that good wind sites in the State also have good solar potential, yielding scope for wind and solar hybrid projects. UB Reddy is also the Managing Director of Enerfra Projects, a company that builds wind projects for others.

Karnataka’s renewable energy capacity is slightly more than half of its total electricity generation capacity. How does it handle such a high proportion of intermittent renewable energy?

Naik told BusinessLine that the State has a natural advantage of having considerable hydro power too, which can be brought in or shut down quickly to complement renewable energy generation.

Second, the State is an active participant in the energy exchange, IEX. Last year, Karnataka earned ₹3,000 crore by selling surplus power on the exchange, Naik said. 

In a recent interview to The Hindu, Rohit Bajaj, Senior Vice President – Business Development, IEX, observed that “Karnataka has been doing exceptionally well in terms of creating (renewable energy) capacity in the country.”

He noted that Karnataka was the only State that was consistently over-achieving its renewable purchase obligation (RPO), which is a mandatory green energy purchase.

“They (Karnataka) have surplus solar and non-solar energy and are utilising the market very efficiently.” 

On the flipside, some industry insiders that Business Line spoke to cautioned that the State might feel the pinch of evacuation capacity constraint.