Fine looms, Tamil Nadu rushes to shore up renewable power

Failure to achieve this renewable purchase obligation (RPO) may cost state power utilities dearly as the ministry has fixed penalties.
Representational image
Representational image(Photo | Express)

CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu has stepped up its efforts to sew up deals to meet the 2024-25 target of 29.91% of power to be derived from renewable energy sources. The state power utility, however, may find it difficult to meet the target set by the union power ministry.

Failure to achieve this renewable purchase obligation (RPO) may cost state power utilities dearly as the ministry has fixed penalties. A senior official of Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco) told TNIE that the utility faces a fine of Rs 3.72 for every unit of shortfall if it fails to meet the target by the end of this fiscal (March 31 of 2025). “The penalty clause has been introduced for the first time,” sources said.

The RPO mandates all electricity distribution licensees to produce or procure a minimum quantity of their energy requirement from renewable sources.

To escape the penalty clause, efforts are on to procure additional solar power in the state. Tangedco has signed a deal with Solar Energy Corporation of India to procure 1,000 MW and is expected to enter into another agreement to purchase an additional 1,500 MW.

“We also have 3,750 MW of renewable energy projects in various stages of completion. This includes 3,100 MW of solar, 350 MW of wind, and 300 MW of rooftop solar,” said an official.

Officials, however, believe that it may be impossible to achieve the target of 29.91%.

“In 2023-24, the state consumed 1,28,213 million units (MUs) of energy, with Tangedco procuring around 24,000 MUs of green energy. For the current financial year, Tangedco needs to procure approximately 39,000 MUs of green energy. Achieving this target is impossible,” said a senior official.

TN, known for its wind energy, has an installed capacity of 10,592 MW from wind. It produced 13,500 million units in 2023-24, way below the potential as most windmills are above 20 years old.

‘We need to increase solar energy by 5-6% in 2024

As of March 2024, the state also has got solar plants with an installed capacity of 8,146 MW. During 2023-24, the state harnessed 11,033 million units of solar energy.

“We need to increase solar power by at least 5-6% this year. Therefore, we must purchase or produce additional solar power,” the official said. “As part of the Paris Agreement, the centre is committed to reduce carbon emission and increase share of non-fossil fuel energy sources to 40% of installed electric power capacity by 2030.

To meet this goal, all power distribution companies across the country have been instructed to boost green sources,” said another official.

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