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Assam lays stress on renewable energy

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Assam had to pay penalty as it could not meet Renewable Purchase Obligation of the Centre.

This was said by Niraj Verma, Principal Secretary, Department of Power, Assam at a programme launch of Energy Access Explorer ( EAE) for Assam in Guwahati.

The EAE was launched by World Resources Institute in collaboration with Assam Energy Development Agency (AEDA).

State governments have to follow the Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) of the Centre which mandates that all electricity distribution licensees should purchase or produce a minimum specified quantity of their requirements from Renewable Energy Sources. This is as per the Indian Electricity Act, 2003. The State Electricity Regulatory Commissions fix the minimum RPO for the State.

” If we cannot fulfil it, the state government has to pay penalty and we did have to pay in the last few months” he said.

He spoke of the government’s commitment on renewable energy and the government will be adding 3000 MW of solar power. We have to import huge amount of power which is very costly as we are generating only 300 MW whereas our demand is 2400 MW.

” This has made to think now of renewable energy and we have signed agreements with many companies on renewable energy.

He also spoke of the state’s recent achievements in providing electricity to remote and far-flung communities.

He said the the Government of India’s Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS) scheme attempts to provide quality and reliable power for both rural and urban areas. Energy Access Explorer could help us track demand as we expand this scheme, but more importantly, it will help us validate our claims on energy provision, and therefore provide us mid-course correction possibilities.”

Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme helps DISCOMs improve their operational efficiencies and financial sustainability by providing result-linked financial assistance to DISCOMs to strengthen supply infrastructure based on meeting pre-qualifying criteria and achieving basic minimum benchmarks.

Verma said the state government is laying importance on renewable energy of which solar energy has got the topmost priority.

Bharath Jaairaj, Executive Director WRI said accessingh good quality data is a major chjallenge and Assam’s recent approval of its data policy 2022 is a welcome step, in attempting to overcome this challenge. ” Energy Access Explorer is going to help us visualise this data for a range of productive uses” he added.

EAE will help visualize the extent of energy access at Assam’s health, education, and livelihood infrastructures. This will in-turn assist policy makers, renewable energy industry entrepreneurs, investors, and researchers from the development sector to make integrated and impactful decisions to expand energy access in the state, in the most efficient, cost-effective and sustainable way possible.

Data from Rural Health Rural Health Statistics and other reports say 37.7 percent of health sub centres and 41 percent schools in rural Assam lack access to reliable power, and this became apparent during the Covid19 pandemic years.

While India has achieved almost complete household electrification, many crucial public infrastructures like healthcare, education and livelihood facilities continue to lack access to reliable, sustainable, and affordable electricity supply. While the concerned departments have been trying to address these problems at a sectoral level, there is an urgent need to understand the links between them and to adopt an integrated approach to solve some of these challenges.

Dr. O.P. Agarwal, CEO, WRI India said, “EAE leverages the power of satellite imagery, combined with local data to visualize power supply and demand, and equips electricity planners, investors and clean energy entrepreneurs with the data they need to close the access gap. We are creating similar platforms for analysis in Kenya, Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and other Indian states.”

Access to electricity is a pre-requisite to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of good health, quality education, clean water, sanitation and eventually, socio-economic development.

“EAE will help us understand these linkages and will enable in developing inferences from these datasets. It will also make this information accessible to all and enable the tracking of progress of electricity and development service delivery indicators over time”, said Akansha Saklani, GIS expert and Program Manager at WRI India’s Energy Program as she demonstrated the workings of EAE and its use cases.

AEDA is the nodal agency for Assam to develop the state’s RE sector. Mr. Mrinal Krishna Chaudhury, Director, AEDA said, “In extending our support to WRI India’s EAE platform, we want to send across a message – we are on the cusp of an energy transition globally, and AEDA will ensure Assam is not left behind. We want Renewable Energy entrepreneurs to leverage the datasets provided by EAE, to look at the best use cases for renewables and to make them viable for themselves and affordable for their consumers.”

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