‘Transition to Renewable Energy is the key to enable a sustainable power sector’: Shri Ajitabh Sharma, Principal Secretary, Energy, Government of Rajasthan

September 17, 2020

Speaking at a webinar organised by CUTS International titled ‘Urja Samvaad: Energy Dialogues for Transforming Rajasthan’, Shri Ajitabh Sharma, highlighted that the electricity sector can survive and sustain for a long time, only when we have a discourse at the tri-junction of consumer, economic and environment aspects. He further added the need to take into account the state-specific dimension of water conservation in the power sector. He mentioned that they have constituted a committee for addressing the recent infrastructural issues that has been plaguing the power sector in the state.

The webinar was organised in collaboration with Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) as a Knowledge Partner, which launched their report titled ‘ Transforming Rajasthan’s Electricity sector- An opportunity to power a Green Recovery’, in this webinar. This event was a part of a new initiative by CUTS, ‘Urja Samvaad’ which is a quarterly series of webinars that aim to bridge the gap between policy makers and the last-mile stakeholders of the energy sector in the state of Rajasthan.

The discussion was initiated by Sarthak Shukla, Assistant Policy Analyst, CUTS International, who emphasized on the need for multi-stakeholder discussions and concerted efforts for ‘taking the sector to the people’. He further set the tone of the discussion by highlighting the major disruptions that the power sector currently phases through the 3Ds model- Decentralisation, Decarbonisation and Digitalisation.

This was followed by a presentation by Kashish Shah, Research Analyst, IEEFA, on key issues and findings of their research on the Rajasthan’s power sector transition. The presentation also recommended a demand forecasting and energy modeling based approach for meeting the additional power sector demand through renewable energy sources and strategically retiring thermal assets.

The session was moderated by Simran Grover, CEO, Bask Research Foundation, who highlighted the importance of Rajasthan in the context of geo-political closeness to the national capital as well as its vibrant and complex ground realities, which can be a potential learning for the policy-makers.

The session began with remarks by Hari Prasad Yogi, President, Consumer Legal Help Society, Rajasthan, who put forward the consumer perspective. While he stressed on the need for solar energy, he highlighted that there are a lot of quality and infrastructural issues, such as billing and metering, in the existing electricity supply. He acknowledged that renewable energy, mainly solar, could be a possible solution for electrifying the community service centers and farmers.

This was followed by insights from Gopal Lal Somani, Former Director, Rajasthan Renewable Energy Corporation limited, who put forth the dimension of optimal resource utilization and conservation of water in solar technologies. He compared the use of water in the thermal power plant with a solar power plant and stated that there is a vast amount of water conservation in this transition.

Geeta Gouri, Former Member, Competition Commission of India, highlighted the necessity of content and carriage separation for making the power sector competitive. She highlighted that the most positive disruption of the renewable energy is that anyone can generate its own electricity, which is further strengthened by the word ‘prosumers’ in the Draft Electricity (Rights of Consumer) Rules 2020. She concluded by stating that coal is here to stay and hence, we need to revisit the engineering behind PPAs as well as increase the adoption of distributed and grid-scale renewable energy across sectors.

Finally, Pramod Deo, Former Chairperson, Central Electricity Regulatory Commission, highlighted the example of Mumbai, Delhi and Orissa in the context of Privatisation in the power sector. He, also, underlined the issue of political economy in the Electricity sector that needs to be addressed for any reforms to succeed at the ground-level. He opined that the reduction of cross-subsidy, as mentioned in the new draft electricity amendment act, will only increase the burden on the domestic consumers through increase in tariff.

The webinar which witnessed the participation of almost 50 participants was concluded by Tim Buckley, Director, Energy Finance Research Australia and South Asia, IEFFA, who reacted to the key themes discussed during the webinar. He added that Rajasthan has moved onto the center stage of the world in the context of renewable energy, which will enhance the state’s energy security. He concluded on an optimistic note by congratulating the State of Rajasthan for its efforts and progressive approach towards a clean energy transition.

For further details, please feel free to contact:

Sarthak Shukla, ssk@cuts.org

Aman Raj, amr@cuts.org