RE-PriorityThe Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is working to frame guidelines under which both private and public sector power producers will have to ensure that 10 per cent power generated out of their total installed capacity comes from solar for illuminating smart cities in the country.

Speaking at a recent conference on India’s renewable energy potential and creation of a roadmap for attracting investments to the sector, held under the aegis of PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry in New Delhi, New and Renewable Energy Secretary Upendra Tripathy said the requirement of generating 10 per cent solar power out of the total installed capacity for feeding power to smart cities was aimed at providing low cost power and also generate awakening for clean energy.

Tripathy informed his ministry had taken on board other government departments as well as commercial banks to ensure that funding for new and renewable energy, especially solar, was brought under priority sector lending. Talks were being held with multilateral agencies to contain the hedging cost of finance for new and renewable energy projects, particularly solar, he added.

Tripathy pointed out that a consensus had evolved to bring new and renewable energy financing under priority sector lending and a roadmap to this effect could be seen in the government’s budget proposal for fiscal 2015-16.

At present, loans sanctioned by banks directly to individuals for setting up off-grid solar and other off-grid renewable energy solutions for households are covered under priority sector lending.

“The ministry has already walked extra miles to persuade railways, defence and host of other such departments including airports to make use of their infrastructure for installing solar panels and produce solar power for their use. The railways and defence have activated themselves as the former has already announced to produce solar power to an extent of 500 MW in next two-three years. However, airports have lagged behind on it as these have been asking for subsidised solar panels, which the ministry has refused pointblank because it is discouraging subsidy culture and insisting on low cost finance for promotion of renewables not only through domestic financial institutions but also with multilateral agencies such as World Bank, ADB and like,” said Tripathy.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of developing 100 smart cities in the country has already begun to take shape with several foreign governments joining in the initiative. In August last year, India and Japan signed a MoU for developing Varanasi into a smart city. More recently, India and the US decided to set up three task forces for jointly developing Visakhapatnam, Ajmer and Allahabad as smart cities. Germany has also agreed to partner with India in developing three smart cities. A joint committee consisting of three members each from both countries will identify the cities.

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