Clean Energy Goes Spiritual, As Key UP Cities To add 670 MW Rooftop Solar

Uttar Pradesh energy minister Shrikant Sharma has announced that places of religious importance in the state will be powered by solar energy by 2024. Among the  cities cited by him were Ayodhya, Mathura, Varanasi, Prayagraj and Gorakhpur.

Rooftop solar would be the preferred medium to achieve the target of 670 MW, powered by central subsidies of Rs 859 crores and state subsidy of Rs 473 crores.

Interestingly, the state is in the middle of a major revamp of these key cities, with Ayodhya primed to be a major tourist destination once the Ram temple is completed there. Prayagraj, which hosts the massive Kumbh mela, has also been making strides in trying to ensure the activity is as friendly to the environment as possible.

Highly subsidised rooftop solar might be one way for the government to thank the residents in these cities, who have borne the brunt if the massive infrastructure work, especially in Varanasi, home to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Varanasi is also Prime Minister Modi’s constituency.

The plans, if they work out well, will also add to UP’s anaemic performance versus plans, when it comes to solar energy, both at rooftop and utility level. The state has a total target of 10,700 MW by 2022. A generous rooftop solar subsidy plan has so far failed to galvanise adoption in the state, due mainly to the deeply entrenched corruption at discom level.

We estimate that the state has just over 1 GW of total installed solar capacity, with a further 1.6 GW under development. By early next year, projects over 650 MW might be completed. That will still leave a long road to 10,700 MW by 2022..

Minister Sharma also said that under the PM KUSUM scheme and by energy efficiency measures, the state government was working towards making 12 lakh tube wells energy efficient. That would save the government 400 crore units of power.

Under the KUSUM scheme, so far around 26,000 private tube wells have been solarised, he claimed.

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