The state has taken a lead in generating power from renewable resources with about 40 percent of its power coming from renewable energy sources, which is the best energy mix among all states in India, writes Vivek Ratnakar of Elets News Network (ENN).
Karnataka has achieved many milestones in the energy sector since the state set up its first hydroelectric power generation station in the Shivanasamudra area in Mysuru on the banks of Cauvery river in 1902. Karnataka was also the first state in India to embark upon alternating energy, and pioneered a professionally managed power corporation to plan, construct, operate and maintain power generation projects across the state. Today, Karnataka is the seventh largest state in India in terms of power generation capacity with a total installed capacity of 28,789 MW, as of 2018.
Karnataka was among the few states that had realised early on that smart energy needs intelligent approaches to manage and coordinate power generation, distribution and consumption. The state has a high renewable energy potential of about 30,000 MW. If implementation barriers are resolved, up to 10,000 MW/17,250 MUs of wind generation capacity can be added at a cost of Rs. 60,000 crore by FY2020. Similarly, up to 4000 MW/6300 MUs of solar capacity can be added by FY2020 at a cost of Rs. 32,000 crore.
The state has taken a lead in generating power from renewable resources with about 40 percent of its power coming from renewable energy sources, which is the best energy mix among all states in India. Karnataka embraced renewable resources as the prime source of generating power as the state is scarcely endowed with resources like coal, oil or nuclear power compared to the K hydroelectric power and solar energy.
Leading from the front in the production of solar energy in India and being the first state to set up a utility-scale power plant of 3 MW in 2009, Karnataka boasts of a power transmission network of 36,858 circuits.
Pavagada Solar Park, the world’s largest solar power park, is located in Karnataka. Generating 2050 MW of clean energy, the park is located on land leased from farmers, utilising the drought-hit area and adding to farmers’ income.
Karnataka’s success in renewable energy is attributed to its prudent energy policies and commitment to align its power industry with the policy framework prepared by the central government. The state offers fully subsidised open access model for solar power generation that has allowed businesses and developers to mitigate payment and offtake related risks and purchase cheaper and more reliable power supplies.
Over the years, several significant measures have been taken by Karnataka in restructuring the power sector. To realising the objective of India’s National Smart Grid Mission, which envisages extending benefits to customers of digitalisation with seamless integration to ensure reliable supply of electricity, Karnataka has been making efforts in areas like grid modernisation, Smart Metering, promoting electric vehicles and energy storage, enhancing capacity in renewable energy and developing microgrids.
The Karnataka Electricity Regulation Commission (Smart Grid) Regulations, 2015 aims to integrate all smart grid technologies and measures to bring about economy, efficiency improvement in generation, transmission and distribution licensee operations, manage the transmission and distribution networks efficiently, enhance network security and integrate clean and renewable energy into the grid and microgrids. A smart grid is the one where one can get real-time information from the utility about its healthiness and suggest the best way to restore power supply during breakdown in the shortest possible time or some time self-heal on its own, which gives high consumer satisfaction.
Karnataka is among the few states where installation of prepaid electricity meters at public facilities has started under Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY). This is in line with the Ministry of Power’s plan to replace all old meters across the country with ‘smart prepaid’ meters by the end of FY22. This is set to reduce the aggregate technical and commercial losses of discoms by improving billing and collection through removal of manual intervention and reducing meter tampering by consumers.
In October 2019, Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (BESCOM) came up with 112 charging points for battery-run buses. BESCOM has also drawn a plan to set up 678 electric vehicles (EV) charging stations across Karnataka. The BESCOM Mithra app has been launched for electric vehicle owners to download and access the list of charging stations, get information on the type of charging point (fast or slow), and book a time slot. The app also enables online payment and support digital wallets. Currently, Bengaluru alone is home to more than 10,000 electric vehicles.
Under the 24*7 Power for All plan, Karnataka aims to bring down the Transmission & Distribution (T&D) losses in the state from an average of 20.6 percent to 12 percent, which would result into savings of Rs. 1,470 crore per year at an Average Power Purchase Cost (APPC) of Rs. 3.5/ kWh.
The recently released ‘State Energy Efficiency Index 2019’ report by the Ministry of Power has placed Karnataka among the top three ‘Achiever’ states for taking measures to improve energy efficiency and achieve energy savings. The report evaluated Karnataka on 97 qualitative, quantitative, and outcomebased indicators. It covered sectors like buildings, industries, municipalities, transport, and agriculture and distribution companies (DISCOMs) to assess their energy efficiency.
Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa recently met investors at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and successfully managed to get commitments from investors to invest in the state’s solar energy sector. Steel magnate Laxmi N Mittal, who already has substantial investments and land holdings in Ballari district, said he would plan investments in Karnataka, especially in solar power sector.
Karnataka is fast moving towards creating an efficient smart energy ecosystem in the state. The state has been implementing reforms for reducing electricity prices and making retail tariffs more cost-reflective which would help make power for all a reality in Karnataka and make industrial companies based in the state more competitive.