Budget 2019 reaffirms priority on renewables but lacks sops

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“India will lead the world in transport revolution through use of electric vehicles and energy storage solutions. This will help in cut down costly imports of oil, enhance energy security and lead to savings of foreign exchange,” said Interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal while presenting the interim budget for 2019-20 in Parliament today.

India’s installed solar generation capacity has grown over ten times in last five years. Stating this, Goyal said that “our commitment to promote renewable energy is reflected in setting up the International Solar Alliance, the first treaty based international inter-governmental organisation headquartered in India. This sector is now creating lakhs of new age jobs.”

The interim finance minister also emphasized that the government will meet its target of universal household electrification by the end of March 2019.

The budget, however, brought no big policy relief for the solar industry, eliciting mixed response.

Reacting to the budget, Nikunj Ghodawat, CFO, CleanMax Solar told pv magazine: “It is good to see that renewable energy remains a priority for the government and has been prominently highlighted in India’s 2030 Vision. Electric vehicles have also been brought into focus. What we will wait to see is finer print on the renewable industry like uniformity in policies, imposition of duties and ease of financing to reduce dependence on deplete-able energy resources, thereby fueling adoption of renewable energy. For electric vehicles to become a norm of the future, policies should include how EVs can be powered by renewable energy.”

“While the budget has confirmed the role of renewables in its vision of a clean and green India, and states have started showing enthusiasm in adoption, a long-term roadmap will be expected by the industry,” Nikunj added.

Speaking to pv magazine, Amit Gupta, Director of Legal & Corporate Affairs, Vikram Solar said, “In a situation where there is scarcity of financing options for renewables and manufacturing units are dying a slow death, the budget provides no ray of hope.”

“The industry was expecting a policy direction from the government to promote manufacturing, especially in the renewable energy sector. Surprisingly, this was completely missing from the budget,” he added.

“Budgetary allocation for the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) remains approximately similar to capital allocated in FY 2017-18, standing at Rs 5200 crore. Unfortunately, the Government did not act upon the Parliamentary Standing Committee recommendation of reinstating the funding of renewable energy projects through National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF), which was diverted towards GST compensation fund since 2017.”