My vision about what is the way ahead in this sector is primarily based on my experience in the state of Punjab. As you all know that Punjab is an agriculture dominated economy and we produce around 20 million tons of biomass but the state is unable to use around 15 million tons of biomass which inturn is being burned by the farmers because they do not have any other option because we go for multi-crops.
So, as a solution, we have decided to convert this biomass into power and a latest project which has come in the state of Punjab is setting up of a compressed biogas plant which uses 33 tons per day of biomass to produce compressed biogas.
I do believe that for a state like Punjab, this is the future where we see biomass as a resource equivalent to something like coal whose calorific value is just less to coal and it can be used to produce energy and this can also be used for balancing the other renewable sources of energy like the traditional solar in Punjab where the cost of land is very high. Also, we are giving a premium to canals for installing floating solar panels.
I request investors to come to Punjab and explore investment opportunities in the state. We must do our bit to make the state and the country green and ultimately ensure that we leave the earth which we inherited from our forefathers in a better condition than where we stand today.
If we talk about the future of the energy sector in India particularly in renewables, I believe there is only one direction in which we have to go is to produce more renewable energy which is also a commitment worldwide. Even our state regulators are insisting on this as by 2030, the target is to meet 50 per cent of the country’s energy needs from renewables.
For our state, it’s a challenge as there are constraints like increasing land cost which is basically a political issue, farmer agitation, solar radiation challenges – the radiation is not as good as it is in Rajasthan or in Gujarat and Maharashtra and even Telangana. I believe the solution which can be viable in times to come is agri-photovoltaic. It is something which offers no disturbance to the cropping patterns and crops can grow in harmony along with solar panels. We already have an MoU with the leading Punjab Agriculture University and we are putting up a pilot 1 MW demonstration plant where we will be producing electricity along with agriculture.
Unless we are able to manage the economy with energy production it would not be sustainable and we may not be able to achieve our target.
As renewables is an infirm power, I believe that hydrogen or pump hydro must be developed to balance out the peaks and give round the clock energy and meet burgeoning energy demand of the country due to rapid urbanisation and industrialisation.
Views expressed by Sumeet Jarangal, CEO, Punjab Energy Development Agency.