Natural and Power resources in Maharashtra
Maharashtra stretches from the western and central part of the country along with a long coastline stretching nearly 720 kilometres along the Arabian Sea. The Sahyadri mountain ranges provide a physical backbone to the State on the west, while the Satpuda hills along the north and Bhamragad-Chiroli-Gaikhuri ranges on the east serve as its natural borders. The State is surrounded by Gujarat to the North West, Madhya Pradesh to the north, Chhattisgarh to the east, Andhra Pradesh to the south east, and Karnataka to the south and Goa to the south west. Maharashtra State has a geographical area of 3,07,713 sq. km and is bounded by North latitude 15°40’ and 22°00’ and East Longitudes 72°30’ and 80°30’. The State has a population of 11.24 crore according to Census 2011, which is 9.3 per cent of the total population of India. The State is highly urbanised with 45.2 per cent people residing in urban areas
Maharashtra is one of the most urbanized states there is an scope for urban services quality, reliability improvement and delivery to people. Renewable energy alternatives have potential to satisfy both the challenges of inclusive and low carbon growth. There is a wide disparity in electricity consumption in urban districts like Mumbai, Thane, Raigad, versus the rural districts like Nandurbar, and Gadchiroli.
Typically poor consumer from rural areas can’t sustain paying for electricity for a duration in which they can see its return in terms of better life style. However the average load shedding for rural areas in case of Irrigation feeders is around 8 hours. There are around 4 million pump sets in the state which are energized. With poor quality of electricity supply, a vicious circle is formed between the farmer who is unwilling to pay for the poor supply and the utility for which there is no incentive to upgrade the service quality and provide electricity at very low to negligible commercial profit. In presence of such poor supply quality, farmers adopt diesel pump sets, which can be very inefficient as compared to the electric motors, resulting not only in huge increment in input cost for farmers but also increased carbon footprint of the agriculture sector.
Mumbai has three power utilities – Tata Power Company Ltd., Bombay Suburban Electric Supply (BSES) Ltd and Bombay Electric Supply & Transport Undertaking (BEST). In the past, the task of providing electricity to the state of Maharashtra was done by Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB). MSEB was set up in the year 1960 to generate, transmit and distribute power to people in Maharashtra, except Mumbai. The Maharashtra State Development Agency was established by the state government which has been taking various initiatives to increase the power generation through renewable energy.
The Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) has also been very proactive in promoting energy generation from renewable energy sources. The organization has been in the forefront of determining preferential tariffs for renewable energy technologies and began its initiative for non-fossil fuel-based projects even before the enactment of Electricity Act, 2003. The Commission issued tariff commands for various types of renewable energy technology such as wind energy, non fossil and fuel based cogeneration, small hydel power, biomass power, etc. in tune with EA 2003.
When the central government came up with the renewable energy ministry, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) in the early eighties, the state government decided to set up something that would cater to energy development on those lines. Thus Maharashtra Energy Development Agency (MEDA) came into picture. The organization’s objective is to undertake development of renewable energy and facilitate energy conservation in Maharashtra as a state nodal agency under the umbrella of the MNRE. MEDA did wide-ranging work in the area of renewable energy focusing on rural areas. Though over the last few years, there was focus on Integrated Rural Energy Planning (IREP) programme, in the last few years, new technologies related to grid power generation from renewable have gained prominence. Maharashtra State Power Generation Company Limited (Mahagenco) came in later in the year 2005, to reorganise MSEB. With a generation capacity of 10737 MW comprising of 7480 MW from thermal, 2585 MW from hydel and 672 MW from gas turbine, this entity was established by government of Maharashtra under the Central Electricity Act 2003. The principal objective of Mahagenco focused on business of generation of electricity, and produce cheapest power for consumers in the state. For its eco friendly ways, their power stations have also received ISO 14000 and ISO 14001 certification. Due to the long-term certainty provided by the prevalent regulatory framework and several other policy initiatives by state government, there has been significant development of installed capacity based on renewable energy sources, particularly wind energy. Also, it remains the only state utility which has a comprehensive, well-balanced portfolio, involving diverse energy means including thermal, hydel and gas stations.
The state has gone into various phases of development by means of collaborations and partnerships. For instance with NTPC, the state government has initiated power capacity expansion programme of 3140 mw for Maharashtra. This is in addition to 2,440 mw already operational through Ratnagiri Gas plant (1940 mw) and Mouda 500 mw. The Mouda Project is the first power station of NTPC in Maharashtra. The project has two 500 mw units in stage I out of which one is already operational, and the second unit is expected to function soon. Maharashtra is second state in the country where power generation is happening from renewable energy.
In terms of capacity generation, Maharashtra is second only to Tamil Nadu. In order to ensure proper implementation of the provisions of new RPO regime, it is required that role of various entities involved in monitoring and implementation be clearly defined. Further, a monitoring committee can be set up, which has representation from various stakeholders for supervising the effective monitoring and implementing of the RPO provisions. This would ensure smooth functioning of the state power sector and increase in the inclusion of renewable in their portfolio.
Growth of renewable energy in Maharashtra was dependent on only two resources i.e. wind and biogases, out of which over 75% of the wind potential and 100% of the cogeneration potential is already tapped. This growth in these two sectors can be mainly attributed to the financial incentives such as accelerated depreciation, state energy fund, as well as other key factors such as organized nature of fuel supply chain for cogeneration projects and categorization of wind potential sites in the state.
However other sectors such as solar didn’t grow with such rate in absence of clear policy signals among other reasons. The small hydro sector has also been growing steadily. To continue the same growth trend, it is essential for the state to equally stress on other renewable resources such as bio energy, solar PV and waste- to-energy, which are abundantly available in the state. All of the bio energy options depend upon an assured supply of biomass fuels for its operation. Development of solar PV has been sluggish in the past and it can be promoted with a clear policy direction and time bound targets. Given the high urbanization in the state, waste-to-energy offers a dual advantage of energy generation as well as waste disposal.