Gujarat Energy transition a cut above!

Mamta Verma, IAS

From developing Asia’s largest solar park – Charanka, to constructing the world’s largest Renewable Energy Park in Kachchh, from being the first State to launch a Renewable Energy policy to emerging as a leader in Green hydrogen production, Gujarat leads the nation in the clean energy transition, shares Mamta Verma, IAS – Principal Secretary, Energy & Petrochemicals Department, Government of Gujarat, in an exclusive interaction with Hemangini S Rajput & Muskan Jaiswal of Elets News Network (ENN). Edited excerpts:

Gujarat accounts for 20-25% of India’s green hydrogen market, driven by industries with high decarbonization challenges. Oil refineries contribute to 65% of the State’s hydrogen demand, while fertiliser production and other industries contribute the remaining 35%. What steps are being taken to increase the Green Hydrogen production in Gujarat?

In alignment with India’s strategic vision for energy independence and the pursuit of Net Zero by 2070, the National Green Hydrogen Mission (NHM) was unveiled on January 13, 2023. This mission, with the ambitious goal of achieving a domestic green hydrogen production of 5 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) by 2030, will position India as a global leader in green hydrogen production. The NHM aims to add 125 GW of renewable energy generation capacity, accompanied by a substantial investment of INR 8 lakh crore in the green hydrogen ecosystem by 2030.

Earlier this year, we allotted nearly 199,000 hectares of land in Banaskantha and Kachchh districts for setting up green hydrogen projects, with a 40-year lease. This will provide a steady recurring revenue to the State exchequer.

More importantly, the scale of renewable energy installations planned on this land is immense. The companies have proposed setting up a combined 99,814 MW of solar and wind power projects, exclusively dedicated to the production of green hydrogen. Once fully operational, these renewable energy projects are expected to facilitate a production of nearly 40 lakh metric tonnes of emissions-free hydrogen annually.

This will not only make Gujarat a global leader in green hydrogen but also go a long way in decarbonizing our energyintensive industries and help achieve our climate goals.

In another major project commissioned in 2022, Larsen & Toubro’s green hydrogen plant in Hazira uses an electrolyzer capacity of 800 kW along with a 990 kW rooftop solar plant and 500 kWh battery storage. This pilot project will provide valuable insights into integrating intermittent renewable power on a large scale for hydrogen production.

We are in discussions with multiple global green hydrogen producers and technology firms to bring more investment and set up large gigawattscale renewable energy-based hydrogen plants across the State. This will help significantly boost our green hydrogen production and utilization in the coming years.

LNG Terminal Projects in Gujarat can be termed the most prominent projects for sustainable development. Could you throw some light on the progress and their expected contribution to the State’s energy infrastructure? Furthermore, how is the Government ensuring the safety and environmental compliance of these terminals?

Gujarat is home to 3 operational LNG terminals which accounts for 66% of India’s total regasification capacity. Two more terminals of 5 MTPA capacity each are in advanced stages of being commissioned, thereby making Gujarat the gateway for LNG imports into India. LNG terminal projects in Gujarat stand as pivotal contributors to sustainable development initiatives, with continuous updates on their progress available through official channels. These projects, integral to the State’s energy infrastructure, undergo stringent safety measures and environmental compliance ensured by the Government. To mitigate potential risks associated with LNG terminals, robust safety protocols and environmental impact assessments are diligently implemented.

World's Largest RE Park, Kachchh
World’s Largest RE Park, Kachchh

The significance of LNG Terminal Projects for sustainable development is highlighted by their advanced stages and the promise of enhancing the State’s energy infrastructure. There is a strategic focus on capacity enhancement, aiming to increase terminal capacities for more efficient energy distribution. The Government’s commitment to safety and environmental compliance is underscored by the enforcement of strict regulations, regular inspections and collaboration with relevant stakeholders. This concerted effort ensures the sustainable operation of LNG terminals, aligning with Gujarat’s commitment to responsible and eco-friendly energy development.

Also Read | Gujarat’s Significant Contribution to India’s Environmental Commitments

Can you provide an overview of the key initiatives and projects that the Energy & Petrochemicals Department is currently working on to promote sustainable energy and petrochemical development in Gujarat?

I, as the Principal Secretary of Energy & Petrochemicals Department in the Gujarat Government, am proud to highlight our State’s achievements and ongoing efforts in promoting sustainable energy and petrochemical development. Thanks to the visionary leadership of our Hon’ble Prime Minister and the former Chief Minister of Gujarat, Shri Narendra Modi, our State has emerged as a leader in renewable energy.

We established the first Climate Change Department in the country, dedicated to implementing measures for sustainability, energy transition, and achieving net-zero goals. Gujarat is also the pioneer in issuing policies on renewable energy, providing incentives to encourage its development. Presently, we lead the nation in installed wind power capacity, constituting 25% of the country’s total capacity. In fact, Gujarat Government has been very proactive in the renewable energy space since many years now. For instance in 2009, the Gujarat Government announced a solar policy to increase the sector’s growth and power supply affordability. Additionally, Gujarat boasts the highest installed rooftop solar capacity, contributing to 26% of India’s overall rooftop solar capacity.

Mundra-LNG-Terminal, Gujarat
Mundra-LNG-Terminal, Gujarat

In terms of total installed capacity, Gujarat ranks first among all states in India, showcasing an impressive capacity of approximately 48.5 GW. Gujarat also takes the lead in residential rooftop solar, holding an impressive 82% share of the country’s installed capacity. Notably surpassing India’s per capita electricity consumption, Gujarat stands at 2283 units, emphasising our commitment to socio-economic growth.

The long-awaited Hydrogen Valley Project has been launched in Gujarat, aiming to establish a localized hydrogen value chain serving multiple sectors such as mobility, industry, and energy. The Hydrogen Valley Innovation Cluster in Gujarat aligns with India’s goal to create clean Hydrogen Valleys by 2030. In the fiscal year 2022- 23, Gujarat Gas Ltd. accomplished India’s inaugural Pilot Project for a CGD business, incorporating Green Hydrogen blending with DPNG supplies at NTPC Kawas Township. This successful initiative involved blending of 5% Hydrogen into the DPNG network, providing sustainable energy to over 150 households.

Furthermore, we are actively involved in groundbreaking projects such as the Charanka Solar Park, and also in the process of developing the world’s largest 30 GW RE Park. These initiatives underscore Gujarat’s unwavering dedication to fostering innovation, sustainable development, and economic growth.

Gujarat has been a leader in renewable energy production Could you share some insights into the State’s achievements and plans in the renewable energy sector, such as solar and wind energy?

Gujarat has been a leader in renewable energy production, showcasing a proactive commitment to India’s ambitious 2030 targets. With 10.5 GW of solar capacity and 11.1 GW of wind capacity, the State plays a pivotal role in the nation’s green energy transition. The Gujarat Government’s proactive efforts are evident in projects like the “Gujarat Solar Park,” Asia’s largest, covering over 2179 hectares in Charanka village, Patan district. Commissioned by 36 developers, the park has 730 MW of solar projects and 4.2 MW of wind power.

A key initiative we have undertaken is to provide renewable energy access to the villages near Modhera. Under this initiative, we have installed a 6 MW ground-mounted solar power plant alongside a 15 MWh Battery Energy Storage System at Modhera village. The battery storage plays a vital role in ensuring solar power generated during the day is available around the clock for village residents.

The Raghanesda and Dholera solar parks are also operational and contributing towards the clean energy goals of the State of Gujarat. Nestled in the MahadevapuraBhangarh village near the Dholera region of Ahmedabad district, Gujarat, the Dholera Ultra Mega Solar Park (UMSP) is a sprawling venture spanning around 2,000 hectares of wasteland.

Charanka-solar-park
Charanka-solar-park

Similarly, in 2014, the Government of Gujarat embarked on an ambitious initiative to harness solar energy by initiating plans for the Raghanesda Ultra Mega Solar Park in Banaskantha District. These initiatives not only combat climate change but also emphasize state-of-theart infrastructure and environmental preservation.

How does energy storage technology in Gujarat help in managing the State’s high energy demands and contribute to reducing dependency on fossil fuels?

The State’s industrial prominence also brings with it high energy demands. Energy storage technology in Gujarat can play a vital role in balancing these energy demands, especially during peak usage hours. By storing excess energy generated during periods of low demand, such as midday for solar power when industrial demand might be lower, this energy can be used during the evening when demand spikes. This not only enhances the overall efficiency of the energy system but also helps in reducing dependency on traditional fossil fuel-based power plants, aligning with national goals for reducing carbon emissions.

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