A SunEdison installation at Charanka solar park in Gujarat. Credit: American Centre Mumbai
India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has published a draft environmental and social management framework for the many utility-scale solar parks to be developed in the country.
The framework will aid developers and planners in the screening, assessment and management of environmental and social impacts at an early stage in project planning.
India has already planned 27 solar parks of 500MW or more in capacity each, with land identified in the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Uttarakhand.
As key challenges for PV developers such as land procurement and transmission infrastructure are solved by teh solar park scheme, tenders for capacity with in the parks have seen developers bid for record low tariffs in recent months.
As many solar park sub-projects have yet to be identified, the main objectives of the Environmental and Social Management Framework (ESMF) will be to:
- Establish clear procedures and methodologies for the environmental and social planning, review, approval and implementation of sub-projects
- Specify roles, responsibilities and necessary reporting procedures for managing environmental and social concerns related to sub-projects
- Determine the training, capacity building and technical assistance needed to successfully implement the provisions of the ESMF
The ESMF draft was prepared using a case study from the Multi-Gigawatt Rewa and Pavagada solar parks.
Pavagada in Karnataka, for example, was identified as having various social issues including loss of livelihood for landless labourers working in agricultural fields, low annual lease rentals and loss of access rights to common property resources.
The draft document also cites various environmental challenges at Pavagada including the protection of existing surface water resources and wildlife and hazardous waste disposal, among others.