Why States in India should Follow Karnataka to Facilitate Renewable energy Revolution

With India consistently taking charge in building a sustainable energy infrastructure, it is clear that the future of the country is bright. However, to assess scale of growth and predict the success of countrywide green energy adoption, we need to identify progress rate state wise. States like- Telangana, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Gujarat have shown incredible growth trajectory in renewable energy installation, but Karnataka takes the crown in renewable energy installation rate within the country. 27% of its power generation comes from renewable energy, dwarfing other states while, housing nearly 24% of India’s installed solar energy capacity (5 GW) which is the highest for any state in the country. Karnataka has shown incredible success rate in installation and adoption of renewable energy steadily over 10 years. Currently, this state has ~12.3 GW of installed renewable energy capacity and out of that 5.2 GW is solar and 4.5 GW comes from wind energy. The remainder of the capacity 2.6 GW includes small hydro, biomass etc.

This clearly shows solar power being championed by Karnataka and the success rate urges other states of India to follow Karnataka’s footsteps to increase their contribution in solar revolution.

How Karnataka Has Achieved This Growth

Karnataka’s growth has been credited to its positive renewable energy policies. Policies such as- open access, solar energy park development, bringing forth hybrid wind-solar development, and reducing its coal importing (Karnataka does not produce coal) dependence have helped the state to bet big on renewable energy. Decisive decision to establish solar energy parks, namely- The Pavagada industrial solar park, which is said to be the second largest solar power development in the world have made positive changes in raising awareness and bringing people into the loop, thus increasing solar panels adoption rate.

Karnataka have also taken considerable initiatives to try out new energy development technologies and raised awareness among farmers to opt renewable energy. For example, Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC)’s decision to withdraw surcharges levied upon private entities selling renewable energy to consumers resulted into a huge rise in private power production, which ultimately increased solar panels adoption rate in the state.

Additionally, the state simplified land procurement for solar energy plants through identifying land patches where agriculture has not been very profitable and arranged to provide farmers with fixed payments for a year in exchange of the land. Which by the way paved the path towards development of the 2 GW Pavagada industrial solar power park.

Karnataka has also implemented specific schemes that encouraged farmers to produce solar power with the opportunity to sell power back to the grid and use solar-powered irrigation pumps.

In addition, Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA)’s assessment of Karnataka’s solar energy potential and prediction of 73% increase in electricity demand within the next decade have urged the state to scale up its share of renewable energy generation capacity from 27% to 60% by 2027.

What Other States Can Learn

Karnataka presents guidelines that other states in India can follow to ramp up their own renewable energy capacity, championing solar power. Karnataka’s favourable policy creation for renewable energy growth and focus towards policy implementation should be mirrored by other states. Karnataka has successfully dispelled bureaucratic hurdles that developers face in other states while trying to procure land for solar energy plant development.

Involving farmers and coming up with fare deals to accommodate and encourage farmers to opt for green energy should also be followed by other states to raise awareness and get similar results. Besides these, states in India need to focus on reduction of project cancellation rate, reaching RPO targets, fulfilling PPA agreements and making flexible financing options available for renewable energy growth.

Karnataka is not perfect. There are issues in the state involving- lack of transmission infrastructure, repealing the zero wheeling charge order etc that need to be solved to support renewable energy growth. However, what makes this state an ideal example to follow is its approach, actions, and support towards renewable energy growth. And it is high time other states in India followed in the footsteps.