Climate action plans get a shot of green energy

NEW DELHI : Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced a raft of carbon emissions- and intensity-reducing measures, including a battery-swapping policy to promote green mobility, issuance of sovereign green bonds and a policy that makes it mandatory for coal-fuelled power projects to use biomass pellets as 5% of their fuel mix.

In her Union budget speech, Sitharaman also announced promoting the energy service company (ESCO) business model in large commercial buildings and including energy storage systems such as dense charging infrastructure and grid-scale battery systems in the harmonized list of infrastructure. In addition, four pilot projects for coal gasification and conversion of coal into chemicals will be set up.

ESCOs offer design and implementation services for energy-efficiency projects after doing energy audits.

Energy transition and climate action was a recurrent theme across the budget, with “productivity enhancement, sunrise opportunities, energy transition, and climate action” being the priority areas for the government.

The government also plans to set up special mobility zones with zero fossil-fuel policy and formulation of inter-operability standards.

“The private sector will be encouraged to develop sustainable and innovative business models for battery or energy as a service,” Sitharaman said.

Mint earlier reported that the Union budget incentivizing setting up battery-swapping infrastructure for electric vehicles, providing a push to the Energy Service Company (ESCO) model in commercial buildings as part of India’s plan to reduce carbon emissions, and a policy that has made it mandatory for coal-fuelled power projects to use biomass pellets as for their fuel mix and help farmers earn around 15,000 crore annually may find a mention in finance minister Sitharaman’s budget speech. The pellets are mixed with coal to generate electricity.

“Five to seven percent biomass pellets will be co-fired in thermal power plants resulting in CO2 savings of 38 mt (million tonnes) annually. This will also provide extra income to farmers and job opportunities to locals and help avoid stubble burning in agriculture fields,” Sitharaman said.

“Saving energy is an important aspect of energy management. Hence, energy efficiency and savings measures will be promoted. This will be done in large commercial buildings through ESCO business model. It will facilitate capacity building and awareness for energy audits, performance contracts, and common measurement and verification protocol,” she added. The Union budget also allocated 19,500 crore for the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for manufacturing high-efficiency solar modules. This is in addition to the 4,500 crore PLI scheme for solar photovoltaic modules that was announced earlier and was expected to add 10 GW capacity of integrated solar PV manufacturing plants and bring direct investment of around 17,200 crore.

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