Companies involved in the development energy generation technologies need to proactively and responsibly address issues related to the environmental and socio-economic impact of these technologies. Managing solar photovoltaic (PV) panels after their useful life is a crucial part of responsible life-cycle management. This not only minimises the potential negative impact at the last stage of a technology's life cycle, but also allows re-utilisation of valuable materials for new products.

At a recent conference organised by Renewable Watch, project developers discussed their experience in setting up solar power projects in India, the challenges associated with it and the strategies going forward.

Small-hydro power (SHP) is one of the growing segments in the renewable energy space. Unlike the state driven growth witnessed in the solar and wind segments, there has been a steady increase in SHP capacity over the past few years. The segment witnessed a capacity addition of 1,419 MW during the Eleventh Plan period, slightly higher than the target of 1.400 MW. As per the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), its total installed capacity stands at 3,395 MW.

Hydropower has been the backbone of energy supply in Uttarakhand, which is endowed with several rivers and mountains. State-owned generation utility, Uttarakhand Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (UJVNL) is the leading company responsible for tapping the huge hydropower potential, of over 18 GW, in the state. As the state nodal agency for the development of small-hydro power (SHP) plants.

Biomass-based power project developers have been facing challenges such as increasing raw material costs, low tariffs, inadequate power evacuation infrastructure etc. While the developers have sought tariff revisions, the issues related to evacuation facilities has not been on the priority list of state governments.

A growing number of renewables based off-grid solution providers in Bihar area working with villagers who have inadequate grid access and with commercial and industrial consumers facing poor grid reliability. Some of these consumers, who resorted to the use of expensive diesel generator (DG) sets, now report that renewable-based-off-grid solutions have reduced operational costs and environmental emissions.

Bihar has an estimated renewable energy potential of 12 GW to 18 GW. To harness this potential , the state government announced the Bihar Policy for Promotion of New and Renewable Energy Sources, 2011 in June 2011, which will remain in effect till June 2016.

In a bid to improve energy access and quality, Bihar, which is currently the fastest growing Indian state, has shifted its focus to renewable energy as an effective solution, especially for areas that do not have grid access or where the grid is unreliable.

Grid-connected concentrating solar power (CSP) plants face the operational limitation of not being functional at night. In addition, unpredictable weather conditions and intermittent sunlight availability impact such projects' generation output and, therefore, their cost effectiveness. In this context, the installation of grid-scale storage solutions at CSP plants becomes important to ensure that electricity supply is not impacted by variations in sunlight availability and the plant is able to supply power throughout the day based on grid demand as well as meet base load requirements.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has played a significant role in helping the private sector achieve a low-carbon growth path through key investments in the renewable energy and sustainability segments. In the past four years, IFC has made over $700 million climate friendly investments in South Asia, which is expected to increase significantly in the next few years. Excerpts from an interview with Soumya Banerjee, senior investment officer, IFC, South Asia.

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