The False Burden of Social Cost on Renewable Energy

“The second volume of the economic survey released by the Ministry of Finance earlier this month raised issues with investing in renewable energy attributing a social cost of Rs 11 per unit of electricity, three times to that of coal. This gives the wrong signal to the investors, more or less questioning why renewable energy is being pushed so hard,” writes Aruna Kumarankandath.

//The estimate assumes that land required for coal power plant is around 2,023 square meters or 0.5 acres per megawatt (MW), while for solar its 10 times in comparison. This is considered a barrier to solar development. According to the Centre for Science and Environment, on an average, coal power plant requires 1.7 acres of land per MW but this does not include the area of coal mines, which increases the requirement to 5.95 or 6 acres per MW. According to Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, the land requirement for ground mounted solar is around 5-6 acres per MW.

Apart from the underestimated land requirement for coal, the survey also does not consider installations on rooftops and already developed areas, which will reduce the space needed.

According to an analysis by Bridge to India, a renewable consultancy, half the desert area in Barmer, Rajasthan can install 1,000 Giga watt (GW) solar. Solar plants largely use the barren and unproductive land. Thus, 1000 GW can be installed in the 3.5% of the waste land in the country.//

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