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The Indian State of Karnataka has left behind another South Indian state Tamil Nadu as far as renewable energy capacity addition is concerned. It has left behind the other by 1.7 Giga Watt by the end of March 2018. This disclosure has been made in a new report by Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA). Karnataka’s renewable energy capacity also exceeded its coal capacity by 2.5 GW.

As per the report, Karnataka has added around 4 GW of solar power generation capacity in the period 2017–2018. This has taken its cumulative solar energy capacity to 5 GW. By March end, its total renewable energy capacity was standing at 12.3 GW.

“Tamil Nadu was frontrunner till this year in the renewable energy race and it still leads in wind energy capacity. Karnataka, on other hand, has rapidly expanded its solar capacity through adopting industry-friendly policies. It is good that a healthy competition is coming up between these 2 progressive states. But both of them can do more in harnessing wind energy potential,” says director of energy finance studies Tim Buckley, Australasia, IEEFA.

As per the IEEFA report, which is titled “Karnataka Electricity Sector Transformation,” the financial problems for the coal energy sector in essence reflects overall situation of the stranded assets in India, including Tamil Nadu. The coal power plants in the state of Karnataka work at financially unviable capacity factor of only 35 per cent. IEEFA estimates that 2 projects, those in the planning phase, are quite unlikely to happen in the short term as the uncertainties on fuel supply cost as well as agreements and poor utilization factors together with increased stranded assets.

“Karnataka doesn’t need new coal fired capacity, except replacing the 1.7-GW Raichur Thermal Power Station which should be retired by the year 2022 as suggested by the National Electricity Draft 2018,” says the coauthor of the report Kashish Shah.

The energy report highlights failure of Karnataka’s ambition to build gas import terminal as well as generation facilities. The report says that gas-fired base-load generation is unviable as well as poses major stranded asset risks. The under-construction gas-based 370-MW Yelahanka power plant can be converted into a capacity supported by time differentiated tariffs, adds the report. Karnataka’s aggressive posture on renewable energy is a result of economically unviable coal sector. This is what is happening largely across India, including Tamil Nadu.

This article is also a tribute to Tamil icon and DMK chief M. Karunanidhi who passed away at the ripe age of 94 at Kauvery Hospital in Chennai.

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