Karnataka crossed 2030 renewable energy generation target set by PM in 2021 itself

Over half of Karnataka’s total installed capacity is through Renewable sources and the State is attracting a lot of investments in the green energy sector.

Published: 12th February 2023 05:22 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th February 2023 08:55 AM   |  A+A-

G Kumar Naik, senior IAS officer who was Additional Chief Secretary, Energy Department

G Kumar Naik, senior IAS officer who was Additional Chief Secretary, Energy Department

Express News Service

Over half of Karnataka’s total installed capacity is through Renewable sources and the State is attracting a lot of investments in the green energy sector.

The State has the right mix of thermal, hydel, Solar & wind energy and the mixed source of energy generation is an advantage for the state to tide over any crisis, though the emphasis is on moving on to green energy in the long term, G Kumar Naik, senior IAS officer who was Additional Chief Secretary, Energy Department, told TNSE editors and staff during an interaction.


How is the power situation in Karnataka?
We are extremely comfortable. Power is a commodity which is supplied and consumed immediately. If I say it is surplus today, it is only for today. If the demand increases tomorrow, whatever surplus we call will vanish and it will become a deficit depending on the availability of source. In January, there was a demand for 14,962 MW at one particular time, which is an all-time high and we were able to meet it. In Karnataka, demand will be more from January to March. However, in April, there might be high demand in Ballari, whereas in Bengaluru, summer showers would have come and demand might have come down. At the same time, agricultural demand in summer would have come down. If I plan to supply and meet all the demands, I am self-sufficient. Karnataka is able to meet it.

How is the situation for the power supply during summer?
Absolutely no problem. The last summer months have been managed quite well without load shedding even though the entire country was facing coal shortage.

What is Karnataka’s installed capacity?
Our installed capacity to generate power is more than 31,000 MW all these do not necessarily come at one time. Certain sources come only during one particular time like solar in the day time and wind energy during morning or evening hours. This means, at any given time, I only plan for 15,000 to 18,000 MW of peak to be met. Depending on the needs, I can reduce energy generation from coal plants and go for more friendly renewable sources. We can customize it according to the requirements.

What is the status of renewable energy generation?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set a robust target of 50 per cent of power generation through renewable energy by 2030. Karnataka has already achieved it in 2021. Out of the total installed capacity of 31,669 MW in Karnataka, 15,909 MW is from renewable energy sources. This was possible as Karnataka has notified a separate policy for solar energy in 2011. Later, in 2018, it implemented a first-of-its-kind 2,050 MW Solar Park in Pavagada and distributed generation of 20 MW in each of 109 taluks. There is also a biomass/co-generation energy source, most of which sugarcane industries themselves are using.

How are domestic users involved in producing energy?
European countries are leading when it comes to domestic users producing power. In India, the Central government is giving a 40 per cent subsidy on the installation of solar panels. The efficiency of solar panels has increased. At present, in Karnataka, 280 MW of energy is generated through the rooftop of which over 40 per cent is from domestic households, most of which are in Bengaluru and Mysuru. The cost of installing domestic rooftop solar panels is around Rs 56,000 to Rs 66,000 per KW.

What is the status of power generation through hydro and thermal units?
We are in a good position. A huge amount of water is stored in places where hydel energy is generated. We generate around 3,798 MW through hydro stations. We have received good rains in the last few years and getting good rains will make us feel safe. Hydro machines are very flexible and can work very conveniently.

You can start and stop as and whenever you want. The advantage of having a thermal station is that one can go on adding coal and need not have to depend on any particular season. Coal is abundant. However, it takes time to start or stop the operations. Unlike hydel power stations, thermal power cannot be started or stopped immediately. It becomes expensive.

Karnataka faced a coal shortage sometime back. How is it now?
There was a coal shortage across the country. India tried importing coal and sorting out the issue. In Karnataka, we do not solely depend on coal as we have mixed sources of energy generation. If there is no coal, we have alternatives. That is why we could overcome the issue despite the coal shortage. Since we do not depend on just water and coal, we are in a better position. We have wind and other means as well. Ideally, we should have a sufficient stock of coal or we should be in a place where we can access coal immediately. Ballari and Raichur are hundreds of kilometres away from coal fields. Anything can happen... There can be strikes at coal fields, rain, and railway wagon issues and it can spoil days together.

In the long term, we have to do away with coal …
Long-term is a really long term and we do not know when. Right now, the consensus across the country is that we should not add additional or new capacities of thermal. At present, we are thinking of reducing coal usage or stress on not putting additional thermal units and focusing more on renewable energy. Even to do this, we have many challenges, including rethinking topography and transmission systems. We need to reorient our electrical system.

When we say energy generation, we are not using electricity alone. We need energy more than electricity and we think of green energy, for which we need renewable sources, including solar and wind. The batteries used for vehicles need to be charged and the energy has to be green energy. There are electric vehicles and hydrogen vehicles.

What is the per capita energy consumption?
In other countries, people are consuming more energy per capita as compared to India. If we are going to follow a similar lifestyle pattern, we will also be consuming more and more energy. Just domestic consumption, the national average is 1,200 units, whereas in Karnataka it is moderate.

In Bengaluru, consumption is more, whereas outside, in some places, just a light bulb is sufficient, not gadgets.

In the Global Investors Meet (GIM), many companies signed MoUs for energy generation. What is the status?
Most of the investments in the recent GIM (Global Investors’ Meet) were related to renewable energy and green hydrogen. We are following it up.

Is our transmission system equipped to handle the additional load?
The transmission system has to be improved substantially. Energy should be transferred from internal part of Karnataka or some other places where high RE sources are installed to Coastal area near ports to convert energy into hydrogen.

The transmission lines should pass through eco-sensitive western Ghat forest area and getting forest clearance is a very huge challenge. In Karnataka, we have limited coastal regions and the hydrogen plants are to be established in these areas and exported to different countries in huge tanks. But the challenge is the topography. If we want to get energy from internal areas of the State to Coastal Karnataka, it has to pass through the eco-sensitive western Ghat forest area. Maybe technological solution will help to mitigate this issue.

What is the percentage of loss in transmission and distribution?
Over a period of time, this loss has been reduced drastically. It was more than 25 per cent sometime back when KEB was there. Now it has reduced to 11 per cent. Commercial loss can vary including not billing properly, not paying bills or power theft.

Why can’t we have cables underground?
It is very expensive. The underground cables are more than many times costlier as compared to overhead lines. Underground cables are safe and power transmission can be uninterrupted underground. But it comes with a huge cost.

What about supplying power to farmers?
Power supply to farmers is based on the availability of water and their need for a particular crop. Each crop needs different requirements. Agriculture demand is huge. They are demanding power supply during the daytime. Solar has come in handy for us. Karnataka is the first State to start the programme of distributed generation where solar power panels were installed at each taluk with 20 MW capacity. After we did, the government of India came up with a subsidy to put panels near farming land. They are encouraging people to take it up.

Any plans to collaborate with other agencies to put up charging stations on highways to charge electric vehicles?
Many are coming forward. There is a plan.

What made you choose IAS?
At home, we had government officials and all of them looked up to IAS. They said if you become an IAS, you can do so many changes. Also I studied at Ramakrishna Ashram where the seer encouraged and motivated me to take up social services.

Follow The New Indian Express channel on WhatsApp


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp