Karnataka: The Right Shade of Green

Karnataka recently became the top Indian state for renewable energy generation, leaving Tamil Nadu on the back foot. Even more interesting is the news that due to the progressive policies by the Congress government in the state, Karnataka is single-handedly producing more renewable energy than European countries like, Denmark & Netherlands.

Karnataka’s installed capacity of renewable energy is at 12.3 (GW), which includes 5 GW of solar energy, 4.7 GW of wind energy and approximately 2.6 GW of hydro, biomass, heat & power co-generation. In order to achieve this level of output the Siddaramaiah government in Karnataka had to implement smart policies to accommodate the growing energy demands. A report by US-based Think Tank, Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis (IEEFA), complimented the actions taken by the government to encourage less reliance on imported energy.

The govt. ensured low tariffs & declining costs would help build momentum around the uptake of renewables, especially solar. “Karnataka’s progressive leadership offers a positive role model of electricity system transformation for the rest of India”, said the report.

The govt. insisted on implementing innovative policies & encouraged the setting up of solar parks, using modern technologies and creating awareness amongst farmers on renewable energy. For instance, the Karnataka Electricity Regulator Commission withdrew surcharges which were earlier levied on private companies that sold renewable energy directly to consumers instead of through the state electricity utility. This encourages more private players to get into the game.

In order to get more land for solar parks, the govt. focused their attention towards pockets of land where agriculture was neither intensive nor remunerative. They payed a fixed amount for one year to the farmer, ensuring they wouldn’t lose income. This policy helped develop the world’s second largest solar park, the 2GW Pavagada industrial solar park.

In terms of developing technologies & helping farmers, the govt. urged farmers to adopt renewable energy through subsidies in solar-powered irrigation pumps & allowed them to sell surplus power to the grid. Additionally the govt. also experimented with solar-wind hybrid power, where solar panels & windmills are placed in the same land. Karnataka now houses India’s first major hybrid plant.

All in all, the Karnataka govt. has chosen to look to the future & made the state the model for renewable energy. This is the true model of good governance & development, the Congress govt. in Karnataka believed in the importance of using technology to help the people. If there’s one thing we can learn from the Karnataka example, is the power of innovative thinking in collaboration with good governance.