The Telegraph
Saturday , August 31 , 2013
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Bengal plugs into solar power

Calcutta, Aug. 30: Bengal plans to add over 800 megawatts of non-conventional power by the end of the 12th Five-Year Plan, ending 2017. The development of non-conventional energy, mostly solar, is critical to the state at a time the cost of coal is going up.

“Today we are producing about 193 megawatt of renewable power. Our target by the end of the 12th Plan is 1,040MW. Most of it would be solar power,” state power minister Manish Gupta today said at an energy conclave of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The focus will be on districts such as Bankura and Purulia, which have a higher intensity of sunlight, Gupta said, adding that private sector investment is required for setting up the units.

He alleged that Coal India had been unilaterally increasing the cost of coal, which has raised power tariffs. The Centre must have a coal regulator in place so that the price of this key input for thermal power is controlled.

Bengal will try to enforce renewable purchase obligation (RPO) on power utilities by this year. RPO mandates power distributors to buy a portion of their requirement from clean energy sources.

Gupta said West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (WBSEDCL) might not face any problem in fulfilling the obligation. “WBSEDCL already has a mix of seven to eight per cent of renewable energy in the entire distribution,” he said.

Other power utilities such as CESC and the DVC are also looking to take steps to meet its renewable power obligations.