The announcement to roll out another 20 GW of solar power this year is a decisive step that will go a long way in reducing dependence on fossil fuels and achieving the avowed objective of sustainable energy for all. The duty cuts announced for power generating systems operating on fuel cells and biogas as well as wind energy equipment will give a much-needed impetus to the clean energy sector by promoting domestic manufacturing and boosting demand.
The decision to feed about 7,000 railway stations through solar power in the medium term with work on 2,000 stations to be taken up as part of the Railways’ 1,000-MW Solar Mission will set the pace for achieving the 40-GW rooftop target by 2022. The Finance Minister should have complemented these efforts by setting aside funds for energy storage solutions to meet the real challenge of integrating renewable energy with the grid. With a substantial increase in outlay under the Integrated Power Development Scheme and the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana, the government’s target of 100% rural electrification by May 2018 now looks attainable.