Minister of State with Independent Charge for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy and Mines Piyush Goyal reiterated his pledge to ensure power for all by 2019. Edited excerpts:
What is the likely impact of Goods and Services Tax (GST) since the exemptions on the energy products will go away?
It is too early to speculate. I don't think there would be much impact.
‘Make in India’ is an ambitious scheme, launched by the Modi government. What is the ministry of new and renewable energy doing to make the scheme successful?
We are working on a proposal to see how we can further encourage the domestic manufacturing capacity in the country. We have already given several projects which are only available to domestic manufacturers. Rooftop is an area where we are giving a lot of focus. There is a plan to generate 40,000 MW from the rooftops. Since it is much customised, requiring local services from the domestic manufacturers, people will have to invest in the domestic manufacturers. We are also working on a policy to provide support to people who come up with end-to-end manufacturing of equipment. On the wind and hydro side, India has already become quite self-sufficient. The equipments are all manufactured in the country. Over all, solar is the only area in which we depend on import. But we will reduce that dependence in the years to come.
Could you give a timeframe for that policy to take a definite shape?
It is still under our consideration. It will take some time. I have not been able to draw a timeframe.
What is the roadmap for the International Solar Alliance (ISA)? It is a grand opportunity for the domestic solar industry.
France and the US have agreed to launch it quite quickly. So, we are working with the other countries who have agreed to join the ISA. To figure out the date when it can be launched or actual signing of the countries who agreed to join the ISA is the first stage. Screening committees have met at the periodic intervals in the last one year or so. Things are pretty much on track. People across the world are much excited about working together along with other countries, states with solar potential.
Is the ministry of new and renewable energy trying to develop new technology? Solar and wind are already in market modes.
This subject cropped up at a programme I and Dharmendra Pradhan (Union Minister of Petroleum) recently attended. I keep receiving a lot of proposals about new and innovative technology to generate electricity from waste. We both decided to organise a week-long programme for people from across the country to come and demonstrate, showcase their inventions and products. Otherwise several R&D wings, funded by the MNRE, are working to develop new technologies. For example, IIT-Powai, IIT-Kanpur and IIT-Chennai have research centres. National Institute of Solar Energy is working in Gurgaon on newer technologies. It is a continuous, evolutionary process.
RE-Invest 2017 is approaching. Could you share your strategy or thematic roadmap for the event?
We are going to organise RE-Invest 2017 in Gandhinagar because we believe that a Delhi-centric event doesn't reflect the strength of the other parts of the country. Gujarat has been a pioneer in renewable energy. Therefore we want to showcase a successful role model there. We are also looking forward to taking the RE-Invest abroad as well. This has become a very successful brand to promote and propagate the use of renewable energy. It is going to be held in February or March 2017.
The ‘power for all’ scheme is likely to be achieved much earlier than the deadline of 2019. What would you like to say?
We are quite confident that power will be available to all 24x7 by 2019. Now obviously, if you are a consumer you will have to apply for power and take a connection. I can't force it down your throat. We are creating the infrastructure and up-scaling the ability of power reaching across the length and breadth of the country 24X7 in a sufficient capacity. We have very good power availability now. Infrastructure is going to be created. At the same time, I would urge all the people of the country to start demanding better services from the states and the discoms approaching with power connection.
The air conditioners are known to consume almost 30% of the total electricity generated in the country. A new technology has been developed to release the heat of the ACs deep into the ground. Is there any scheme to incentivise the manufacturers selling this technology?
As of now, the ACs consume much less energy than 30%. But yes, it is an important component of energy consumption and gradually growing. As the country prospers, demand for the ACs will grow. We are looking at new technologies which are more environment-friendly. But my own conviction and belief is that these things don't happen on the basis of incentives and subsidies alone. I would like them to stand on their own strength and become a viable proposition.