In the PIL, the petitioners urged that the Great Indian Bustard is a “critically endangered” bird, so to aid its conservation efforts, the cable line should be underground and not overhead.

India’s top court lifts ban on RE projects in endangered Great Indian Bustard territory

The Supreme Court of India lifted its 2021 ban and opened some 80,000 square km habitation of endangered Great Indian Bustard (GIB) in Rajasthan and Gujarat for energy companies (including  NTPC, Adani Green, ACME, ReNew ) to set up 60 gigawatt (gw) of renewable capacity. The court relaxed its earlier order of mandatory underground cabling for solar energy projects. In April 2021, it had told the governments of Gujarat and Rajasthan that power transmission lines for projects should be underground. The priority area for GIB is 13,000 sq km in Rajasthan and 477 sq km in Gujarat. The potential area for green energy use is 78,500 sq km in Rajasthan and 2,108 sq km in Gujarat. In the PIL, the petitioners urged that the GIB is a “critically endangered” bird, so to aid its conservation efforts, the line should be underground and not overhead. As the GIB is partially blind and a low flying bird, it gets stuck in transmission lines and perishes. In 2021, the Centre, Rajasthan government and stakeholders in the solar and wind energy industry moved the Supreme Court and asked it to relax its order on power projects in the GIB habitats. The court said this week the cost of burning coal is higher than allowing overground transmission lines for green energy projects.

India’s total solar module manufacturing capacity reached 64.5 GW in 2023

India added 20.8 GW of solar modules and 3.2 GW of solar cell capacity in 2023. The country’s cumulative solar module manufacturing capacity reached 64.5 GW, and solar cell manufacturing capacity reached 5.8 GW as of December 2023. Of the installed module manufacturing capacity, about 60% was equipped to make modules in M10 and G12 wafer sizes, Mercom reported. The installed module manufacturing capacity in the country is 64.5 GW, the cumulative ALMM enlisted manufacturing capacity has reached 37.4 GW. This suggests that a large part of the installed capacity cannot be supplied to projects that are mandated to use the modules listed under ALMM.

As of December 2023, Gujarat was the frontrunner in India’s photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing landscape, commanding 46.1% of solar module production capacity. Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu came in at second and third positions for module manufacturing capacities, accounting for 9.3% and 7.6%, respectively.

Telangana is home to 39% of the annual solar cell production capacity, the highest in the country as of December 2023. Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh closely followed, with 34.7% and 13.9% of total capacities installed in the country.

Adani build solar, wind energy plant five times the size of Paris

Five times the size of Paris and visible from spac— that’s the size of Khavada, the sprawling solar and wind power plant in Gujarat that Adanis are building at a cost of about $20 billion. It will be the world’s biggest renewable park when it is finished in about five years, and should generate enough clean electricity to power 16 million Indian homes.

The success of the Khavda Renewable Energy Park is critical to India’s efforts to reduce pollution and hit its climate goals while meeting the burgeoning energy needs of the world’s most populous nation and fastest-growing major economy. Coal still accounts for 70% of the electricity India generates.

“A region so large, a region that is so unencumbered, there’s no wildlife, there’s no vegetation, there’s no habitation. There is no better alternative use of that land,” said Sagar Adani. It plans to invest $100 billion into energy transition over the next decade, with 70% of the investments ear-marked for clean energy.

India, Bhutan explore setting up of new hydropower projects

India and Bhutan will develop new energy projects in the fields of hydropower, solar and green hydrogen, with the participation of Indian entities as strategic partners.

India imposed ₹2,448 crore worth electricity from Bhutan in 2022, as per the Government of Bhutan’s data. The 1,020 MW Punatsangchhu-II hydropower project is expected to be commissioned this year, ET reported. 

MNRE allows solar mini grid installations for tribal habitations

The government amended the guidelines for the implementation of the solar power programme for particularly vulnerable tribal group (PVTG) habitations/villages under the Prime Minister’s Jan Shakti Nidhi (PM JANMAN) initiative, reported Mercom. The government had approved the ₹5.15 billion (~$61.9 million) programme to build solar mini-grids for PVTG communities.

Previously, the programme focused solely on providing solar home lighting systems (SHLS) to individual households within PVTG habitations, the Mercom report said, adding that now the norms allow installing solar mini-grids to electrify clusters of households.

A solar mini-grid comprising components such as battery banks, distribution lines, metering, and control equipment can now be deployed instead of individual SHLS installations.

Each unelectrified household covered under the mini-grid will receive financial support of up to ₹50,000 (~$600) from MNRE.

Previously, only the Renewable Energy Service Company (RESCO) mode was specified for installing mini-grids, with MNRE providing financial support capped at ₹50,000 (~$600) per household, the report said. 

Now the new norms allow both Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) and RESCO modes for mini-grid deployment. The Centre recently also approved the PM-Surya Ghar: Muft Bijli Yojana, with a budget of ₹750.21 billion (~$9 billion) as financial assistance for residential houses, group housing societies, and residential welfare associations.

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