Considering how heavily the government has bet on renewable energy to meet the country’s growing power needs—the National Solar Mission alone aims to add 20,000 MW through solar generation by 2022—the progress on National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF) disbursals for renewable energy projects seems less than encouraging. As per a Business Standard report, while the NCEF has collected Rs 18,000 crore through a cess on coal purchase and import in the last four years, projects worth Rs 30,000 crore still await disbursal. The list of projects include those under the solar mission, rooftop solar schemes, solar generation in defence areas, projects in the Green Energy Corridor, among others. Worryingly, since 2011—when the fund was established—NCEF disbursals towards grid-connected projects, a priority for the government’s clean energy policy, stood at just Rs 57 lakh in December last year.
Given how the ministry of new and renewable energy is expecting another Rs 14,000 crore to be added to the NCEF kitty in the current financial year—due to the cess being doubled from Rs 100 per tonne of coal to Rs 200—it wouldn’t be paucity of funds that could undermine the NCEF vision. Unless the disbursals are fast-tracked, the saffron revolution the prime minister has frequently talked about will not be possible.