Presenting the union budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley re-stated the government’s ambitious green energy targets without much detail on the implementation and financing of the solar, wind, biomass and hydro energy projects.
“The Ministry of New Renewable Energy has revised its target of renewable energy capacity to 1,75,000 MW till 2022, comprising 100,000 MW Solar, 60,000 MW Wind, 10,000 MW Biomass and 5000 MW Small Hydro,” said Jaitley, reiterating the announcements made in the past few months.
The Finance Minister proposed to increase the Clean Energy Cess from Rs 100 to Rs 200 per metric tonne of coal, to finance clean environment initiatives. But with the proposals for the utilization of funds from the increased coal cess yet to be spelt out, it is still very much a waiting game.
The budget proposed creation of a National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) and an annual flow of Rs 20,000 crore into it. This will raise money to be invested in renewable energy projects as well.
The decision to electrify 20,000 villages with the help of solar off-grid solutions also offers an excellent opportunity for businesses to scale up their solar offerings in rural areas.
To support manufacturing in solar energy sector, excise duty has been slashed on round copper wire and tin alloys for use in the manufacturing solar PV ribbon (used in solar PV cells).
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a keen proponent of solar energy in his home state of Gujarat, has been proactive on the renewable energy front and there is tremendous optimism from the private sector. However, until the implementation process is announced, it remains to be seen whether the government will walk the talk.