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Odisha legislators stand together for renewables

Bhubaneswar: Rising demand for energy is a noted problem in the Indian state of Odisha, home to 43.7 million people. Yet, despite the huge potential for renewables (particularly solar) to provide much-needed generation capacity, the state still lacks a specific solar power policy. However, the Climate Parliament group of legislators in the Odisha State Legislative Assembly have been pushing for a robust solar power policy, so that developers, investors, service providers and other organizations can understand the benefits, incentives and subsidies available from the Government.

In that context, on the 21st June, a cross-party group of Climate Parliament MLAs drafted and submitted a signed letter to Mr Sri Pranab Prakash Das, the State Energy Minster, requesting him to expedite the finalization and implementation of a robust solar power policy in Odisha. Signatories to the letter were Sri Anant Das, Sri Amar Satpathy, Sri Prafulla Samal, Sri Prasant Muduli [BJD], Sri Chiranjeev Biswal and Sri Ansuman Mohanty [INC] and Sri Dillip Ray [BJP].

Odisha receives an average of 5.5 kwh/m2 of solar insolation per year, with around 300 clear sunny days. The feasible potential for power generation for solar photovoltaic and solar thermal technologies in Odisha have been roughly estimated as 8000 MW and 2000 MW respectively. Such high resource availability provides an opportunity for the state to actively utilize solar energy for meeting the growing energy demands of its citizens.

Besides, with the rapid decline in the cost of generation, solar power can help towards increasing energy access and universal electrification by way of reaching remote areas where extention of the national grid is would be slower, more expensive, and technically challenging. It is worth noting that recently many states have come up with initiatives specific for solar power generation, including Gujarat, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh have either implemented new state solar policies or have come up with aggressive solar capacity addition targets in their states.

Highlighting the need for a comprehensive solar policy for Odisha, Sri Chinanjeev Biswal (INC) mentioned that it is very important to encourage the development of solar technology and address energy security issues in the State - which can effectively only be done when there is a Solar Power Policy in place. Sri Dillip Ray (BJP) called for the productive use of wastelands as solar farms, providing incentives to solar manufacturing agencies, and creating an R&D hub for solar power technologies and creation of performance testing facilities for all types of solar energy devices.

The MLAs are hopeful that in coming days, Odisha will set an example with implementing a comprehensive solar policy that covers all the aspects related to development of solar power in the state. The Energy Minister welcomed such a step by the MLAs and gladly accepted their jointly signed letter. He assured that the state solar policy will be soon in place and necessary consultations will be done with the legislators and other stakeholders before its implementation. He also highlighted that the State Government has plans to set up 20 MW IPP Solar project in Rengali, under JNNSM Batch 1, Phase II under Viability Gap Funding Scheme, 1 MW at Mukhiguda in Kalahandi under State scheme, Smart Grid project in Chhatrapur, 5 MW Grid connected roof-top project and many more.

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