“Our dependence on fossil fuels amounts to global pyromania, and the only fire extinguisher we have at our disposal is renewable energy.”
- India is the fastest-growing economy globally and has overtaken the UK to become the 5th largest economy in the world.
- The country imports more than 80% of its crude oil for energy requirements from outside sources and is the 4th largest emitter of CO2.
- India has a target to cut carbon emissions by 1 billion tons by 2030, integrate 500 GW of non-fossil fuel-based capacity by 2030 and achieve net-zero emission status by 2070.
- In this context, Renewable energy sources play a vital role in securing sustainable energy with lower emissions.
- The primary objectives for deploying renewable energy in India are to
- advance economic development, improve energy security, improve access to energy, and mitigate climate change.
Initiatives taken by the Central Government
- The flagship National Solar Mission, launched in 2010, aimed at installing 100 GW of solar power by 2022, which was later increased to 450 GW by 2030.
- The Centre has also launched a wind energy programme with the target of achieving a capacity of 60 GW by 2022.
- The Production Linked Incentive Scheme (PLI) proposes financial incentives to boost domestic manufacturing and attract large investments in the electronics value chain.
- Further, the PM-KUSUM launched in 2019, aims to provide financial and water security to farmers through harnessing solar energy capacities of 30,800 MW (Revised in 2020) by 2023.
- The government is also setting up Ultra Mega Renewable Energy Parks to provide land and transmission to renewable energy developers on a plug and play basis.
- The decreasing cost of solar and wind power has been a significant driving force behind India’s renewable energy growth.
- According to a report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), the cost of solar power in India has fallen by 84% since 2010, making it cheaper than coal-based power in most parts of the country. Similarly, the cost of wind power has fallen by 49% in the past decade, making it one of the most cost-effective sources of energy in India.
- India’s success in renewable energy can also be attributed to the rapid technological advancements in the sector. The country is a pioneer in floating solar technology, with the world’s largest floating solar power plant located in Kerala.
- India is also home to the world’s largest solar park, the Pavagada Solar Park in Karnataka, which has a capacity of 2 GW.
Methanol and Biomass:
- India has the twin challenge of providing more as well as cleaner energy to the masses. It should focus on getting into the manufacturing of the solar panels under the AtmaNirbhar Bharat initiative, as the demand is to create jobs as well as supply decentralised energy to all households in India.
- In addition to this, we should look for other alternatives, such as methanol-based economy and biomass, as it will clean the cities as well as reduce our energy dependence.
- Fuels produced from biomass have a high calorific value and are cleaner than traditional biomass.
- According to the latest report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), India’s installed renewable energy capacity will reach 174 GW in 2023, accounting for about 37% of the country’s total energy supply.
- However, the country’s power distribution companies, known as DISCOMs, have struggled to integrate renewable energy into the grid due to a lack of grid infrastructure and limited storage capacity.
- This has led to the curtailment of renewable energy output, where power generated by wind and solar projects is wasted due to a lack of demand or transmission infrastructure.
- To realise India’s dream of energy independence, there is a need for a dramatic transformation across the entire energy value chain.
- The country needs to collaborate with private and government players and devise the required policies.
- Renewable energy output can be scaled up by introducing reforms to improve investors’ confidence, removing entry barriers such as difficulty in land acquisition, boosting domestic manufacturing of photovoltaic cells and wind-equipments, and incentivising the adoption of roof-top solar.
- If India has to achieve energy security for sustained growth and development and safeguard our interests from global geo-political events, we would need an Energy Revolution, something similar to the Green Revolution.
- A shift towards renewables has to become a Pan-India mass movement.
- An added benefit of moving towards renewables would be the positive impact on climate change and the achievement of long-term sustainable growth targets for the global economy.