Karnataka has been one of the top 3 Indian states in terms of highest renewable energy (RE) installation for the past several years. The cumulative installed RE capacity of the state is ~15.9 GW, as of March 2022. It has achieved 7.66 GW of solar and 5.1 GW of wind installations. Further, it is among the very few states in India who have consistently met their Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) targets.
Back in 2009, Karnataka came up with its first RE Policy. Later on, with an enhanced focus on solar, Karnataka notified the “Karnataka Solar Policy 2014-2021” in May 2014. This policy was key to the development of solar in Karnataka during the latter half of the previous decade. The cumulative installed solar capacity of the state touched 7,523 MW by December 2021. With its solar policy target as 6,000 MW installed capacity by 2021, the state had overachieved what it had set out to accomplish.
To better harness the RE potential of the state (~155 GW estimated), Karnataka came up with a new RE policy for the period 2022-2027. The main objectives of this policy have been outlined by the Government of Karnataka (GoK) as follows:
• To facilitate development of 10 GW of additional RE projects with or without energy storage systems in the state including 1 GW of Rooftop solar PV projects.
• To attract investment in RE sector and development of state economy and to tap RE potential of the state.
• To achieve RPO targets set by Karnataka Energy Regulatory Commission (KERC) time to time.
• Development of RE parks including the hybrid ones and to promote development of wind-solar hybrid projects.
• To encourage private sector participation in transmission network/Green Energy Corridor (GEC) projects.
• To promote Electric Vehicles (EV) and de-carbonize transportation in state by use of clean renewable energy in this sector.
• To create energy storage market for grid integration of RE & grid support services.
• To promote new initiatives and emerging energy technologies in the state (Floating solar, Biomass, Co-Generation, Hybrid RE etc.)
It can be inferred from the above objectives that Karnataka is aiming for all-round inclusive development of RE in the next 5 years, rather than concentrating on just few technologies.
With RE constituting 50% of total installed capacity and 30% of total energy consumption, Karnataka has one of the highest penetrations of RE in its power infrastructure. To integrate new RE capacity sustainably into the grid, Energy Storage Systems (ESS) has been highlighted as a critical component for the state’s future RE landscape.
The policy proposes RE parks and retiring thermal plants as possible site locations of large-scale ESS projects. To promote EV charging with RE, special rebates (upon evaluation by KERC) on energy tariff will be given to the respective developer. To strengthen domestic manufacturing, the policy also encourages developers to use modules enlisted in Approved List of Models and Manufacturers (ALMM). Similarly, Wind developers are also encouraged to use Wind Turbine Generators from Revised List of Models and Manufacturers.
The major differentiating factors of the new policy vis-à-vis the older (Karnataka Solar Policy 2014-2021) policy has been discussed below.
Table 1: Comparison between Karnataka RE Policy (2022-2027) and Karnataka Solar Policy (2014-2021)
|Parameter||Karnataka Solar Policy (2014-2021)||Karnataka RE Policy (2022-2027)|
|Land Utilization Limits||Not Specified||
|Net Worth Requirements (Developer)||Greater than 2 crore INR/MW (for solar parks and utility scale)||Greater than 30% of Net project cost|
|Commissioning Timeline||Not Specified||
|Project Charges||Performance Bank Guarantee
||Performance Bank Guarantee
Although the state target of augmenting RE capacity by 10 GW is heartening, the target to increase Rooftop solar by just 1 GW over the next 5 years is underwhelming. Rooftop solar has been an area of major concern for the solar industry, with it being one of the main reasons for India’s high likelihood to miss its 2022 solar target of 100 GW by ~27%.
A major development over the past few years has been the growth of Inter State Transmission System (ISTS) infrastructure for RE plants. ISTS allow RE plants to be located pan-India, delivering power across state boundaries by utilizing ISTS infrastructure. In contrast with the state’s (2014-2021) solar policy, the condition limiting maximum size of solar park at a particular location is absent in the new RE policy. Thus, the new RE policy allows development of mega RE parks at any location pan-India, thereby destressing the local grid infrastructure.
To bolster evacuation and transmission infrastructure for renewables in the state, Green Energy Corridor (GEC) will be developed. This is in line with the GEC Scheme introduced by Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), wherein Karnataka was declared to be one of the target states.
Additionally, the policy also mentions new business models that can be utilized for the development of RE in the state. Public Private Partnership (PPP) has been promoted for development of Ultra Mega RE parks, wherein the Karnataka government may invest up to 50% equity of the project.
For rooftop solar development in the state, Peer-to-Peer (P2P) trading of energy through blockchain technology will be promoted. Under this, excess solar energy can be traded between end consumers, with the energy accounting and billing to be implemented over blockchain.
With an addition of 10 GW to existing RE capacity of ~15.9 GW, Karnataka is poised to reach ~26 GW RE capacity in next 5 years. This policy is going to be a major driver for that target and in maintaining state’s reputation as one of the RE leaders in India.