If India has to become the world’s fastest-growing economy, its top priority should be to adopt sustainable development measures. Both the Centre and the
states need to work out a plan to reduce their dependence on the conventionalsource of energy and switch over to renewable ones such as wind and solar.
The state government of Jharkhand under the leadership of the Chief Minister Hemant Soren has taken the first step in that direction.
In a move that will push India’s claim to become a world leader and save the environment from the adverse effect of burning fossil fuel, the state has improved upon its earlier policy with the latest one, Jharkhand State Solar Policy, 2022.
The state enjoys a unique topography where it has about 300 days of clear sky and direct Sun rays leading to high solar insolation. The government has made an innovative approach to tap this natural gift to scale up the production of solar energy and reduce the dependence on conventional energy sources.
The policy envisages a systematic,transparent and streamlined plan of action involving the latest technology, expertise and strategic location.
Highlighting the vision of the government, the new Solar Policy of 2022 says that the State intends to become a leader in solar energy adoption and contribute toIndia’s clean energy ambitions by bringing energy transition closer to communities, businesses and industries, enabling ‘ease of doing business, promoting efficient technologies, creating enabling infrastructure, advancing innovation and locally relevant business models,and equipping its implementing agencies and technical institutions to become best in class.
The Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) acted as a knowledge partner to the Jharkhand Renewable Energy Development Agency (JREDA) in formulating the Jharkhand State Solar Policy 2022.
Bhawna Tyagi, Programme Associate, CEEW said, “We have supported the Government of Jharkhand in its endeavour to make the state a leader in solar energy and achieve its vision of bringing energy transition closer to communities, businesses and industries. Our focus has been on proposing an achievable solar target with a clear roadmap for the Jharkhand state.”
“The policy defines annual solar targets for different project categories. The policy includes various enabling features such as innovative business models, incentive mechanisms, tariff mechanisms, demand creation frameworks, and a robust governance structure to achieve the 4000 MW capacity by 2027,” she added.
Tapping solar energy and converting it into electricity can achieve multiple sustainable development goals. It can empower rural and tribal populations by improving their livelihoods as it is not only a clean form of energy but affordable too.
Since it doesn’t contribute to environmental pollution, sustainable cities and villages can come up with inclusive and sustainable economic growth. Solar energy can improve the work environment, increase employment opportunities and make life more decent and worth living.
Targeting 4000 MW of Solar Power in the next five years.
The government has defined several gradual measures to realise its vision. It has been decided that the share of solar electricity purchases of the distribution companies should be increased to 12.5 percent by 2023-24. (Please see the point number one of the Objectives in the said policy) It will continue to increase subsequently in line with the policy vision.
With this new policy, the state government plans to build an infrastructure that can produce 4000 MW of electricity from solar energy in the coming five years, ie, by 2027. It will deploy a roadmap for the installation of solar panels across various categories and applications such as park and nonpark solar installations, distributed grid-connected and rooftop solar systems, and off-grid systems.
The state government looks up to individuals and private entities to play a positive role to achieve the desired outcome. Private companies and consumers can collaborate with the government and invest in these projects. For instance, people in rural or urban areas can participate in community solar and off-grid projects to help create solar villages or cities in the state.
Scaling up storage capacity, promoting research and development activities, and providing trainings for skill development across all districts to create employment opportunities through solar project deployment are some of the steps among others that the state government plans to take to achieve its objectives.
In the first step, the JREDA will identify government and private lands across the state where solar energy plants can be installed. The unused or government wasteland will be converted into the land bank for the said purpose. Provisions have been made for private landowners to sell or lease out their land for the said purpose.
Incentivising the policy for people
To make the solar policy more attractive, the state government has also incentivised it with exemptions and concessions for people who wish to collaborate with the government. “There shall be 100% exemption of stamp duty on lease deed of land or purchase of land and any further sublease(s) for the land required for the establishment of Solar Project within the state,” the Policy says.
Similarly, it has also offered to waive off land use conversion charges. Subsidy provisions have been made which is over and above the subsidy given by the Central government. Residential rooftop solar projects, off-grid solar projects, and grid-connected solar pumps installed under the PM KUSUM scheme are eligible for subsidy benefits.
At the initial stage, the government needs to attract consumers to come forward and adopt solar electricity. To promote people to get this clean energy, the state government has planned a Green Tariff rate. “Green tariff rate shall be either lower than or equivalent to the average pooled power purchase cost of non-conventional sources of energy of DISCOM to encourage early movers,” the Policy states.
Project categories and their processes
The policy has categorised the solar project into various segments based on the deployment of panels and production capacity. The first one is the utility-scale solar projects under which those projects will be included that have a capacity greater than or equal to 2 MW.
Solar parks with a cumulative target of 700 MW and Non-Park Solar which anybody can set up in the State with a cumulative target of 1000 MW are types of utility-scale solar projects. Besides these, floating solar projects for reservoirs and canal-top solar projects for water bodies have multiple benefits.
Highlighting the second category of the project, it says, “The policy aims to achieve 720 MW of cumulative distributed solar PV capacity in the state during the operative period. All solar projects, ground mount and rooftop solar, with capacities less than 2 MW would be considered as distributed solar projects.”
The third category of the solar project aims at promoting off-grid solar for the development of the rural economy and powering livelihoods. “The cumulative target for off-grid solar projects is 280 MW.
Jharkhand has already taken lead in the distribution of solar pumps which is a key component of the off-grid solar project. The state ranks 5th across the nation.
Under the instructions of the Hon’ble Chief Minister, a milestone step is being taken to provide alternative means of irrigation to ease the issues faced by the farmers of the state. A web portal will be inaugurated under the Kisan Solar Water Pumpset Scheme which will simplify the process of distribution and installation of solar pumps for farmers.
The portal will also aid in providing for the maintenance of the pumps for the next 5 years. These processes will be made transparent through efficient and regular data collection, analysis and online monitoring. Further, the farmers will be able to track the status of their online application for the solar pump sets. It should be noted that a 96 percent subsidy is being provided to the farmers for off-grid pump sets.
Besides the three broad categories, under the ‘Integrated Solar’ initiative, the Policy envisions to further reduce the carbon footprint of Electric Vehicles (EVs) by providing access to cheap and clean solar electricity for EV charging.
In case of any ambiguity, dispute, difference, or issue regarding interpretation/implementation of this Policy, a proposal has been made to create a State Level Empowered Committee to decide such matters.