COP 28 has just concluded. Once again in the event, the participating leaders have indicated that there is an urgent need to set the world on appropriate pathways for deep, rapid, and sustained global greenhouse gas emission reductions, as indicated by science. It has also been mentioned there that peaking of global greenhouse emissions as soon as possible, and accelerating action towards achieving net zero by mid-century or before in line with national circumstances and capabilities and development priorities, is essential to keep the 1.5°C goal alive.
As far as the Indian power industry is concerned, we have witnessed that the year 2023 has been a year of several new initiatives (along with revamping the existing ones) and moderately good progress in our drive to accelerate decarbonization of the sector. As we are about to step into the new year 2024, let us this time have a brief look at some of our union government’s actions in this regard.
According to the latest information from the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy and Power, our installed Renewable Energy (RE) capacity has increased from 76.37 GW in March 2014 to 178.98 GW in October 2023, i.e., an increase of around 2.34 times. Especially, our solar power installed capacity has increased from 2,820 MW in March 2014 to 72,002 MW in Oct 2023, i.e., an increase of around 25.54 times.
Steps taken by GoI to drive the RE growth
With a view to driving growth in the country’s installed capacity of renewable energy, Government of India (GoI) has undertaken the following major steps/measures:
- Permitting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) up to 100% under the automatic route
- Waiver of Inter State Transmission System (ISTS) charges for inter-state sale of solar and wind power for projects to be commissioned by 30th June 2025
- Specifying the minimum share of consumption of non-fossil resources by designated consumers, including Distribution Companies, up to 2029-30
- Setting up of Ultra Mega Renewable Energy Parks to provide land and transmission to RE developers for installation of RE projects at large scale
- Schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM), Solar Rooftop Phase II, 12,000 MW CPSU Scheme Phase II
- Laying of new transmission lines and creating new sub-station capacity under the Green Energy Corridor Scheme for evacuation of renewable power
- Notification of standards for deployment of solar photovoltaic system/devices
- Setting up of Project Development Cell for attracting and facilitating investments
- Standard Bidding Guidelines for tariff-based competitive bidding process for procurement of power from Grid Connected Solar PV and Wind Projects
- Issuing orders that power shall be dispatched against Letter of Credit (LC) or advance payment to ensure timely payment by distribution licensees to RE generators
- Notification of promoting RE through Green Energy Open Access Rules 2022
- Notification of The Electricity (Late Payment Surcharge and related matters) Rules (LPS rules)
- Launch of Green Term Ahead Market (GTAM) to facilitate sale of Renewable Energy Power through exchanges
- Launching National Green Hydrogen Mission with an aim to make India a global hub for production, utilization and export of Green Hydrogen and its derivatives
- Notification of prescribed trajectory for RE power bids to be issued by Renewable Energy Implementation Agencies from FY 2023-24 to FY 2027-28. Under the trajectory, 50 GW/annum of RE bids to be issued.
GoI is implementing the scheme for the development of Solar Parks with a target of at least 50 Solar Parks with an aggregated capacity of 40,000 MW. As on 31-10-2023, 50 Solar Parks with an aggregated capacity of 37,490 MW have been sanctioned in 12 states in the country.
GoI’s approach for reducing use of fossil fuels
As per the latest information from the Union Ministry of New & Renewable Energy and Power – details provided by NITI Aayog, Long Term Low Emission / Carbon Development Strategy (LT-LEDS) has been submitted to UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). It outlines GoI’s approach towards low carbon development or reducing the use of fossil fuels in the country. In-line with that vision, GoI has launched several measures.
Contextually, a few important suggestions for decarbonisation from NITI Aayog include: i) Increases in energy efficiency can economically cut fuel consumption for energy use by 20 to 40% across sectors. Potential gains in energy efficiency will differ between sectors and facilities. Using less fossil energy to make industrial products will lower CO2 emissions. ii) Emissions from the use of fossil fuels to generate heat can be abated by switching to furnaces, boilers, and heat pumps that run on zero-carbon electricity. Electrifying heat can involve a change in the production processes. For example, to electrify ethylene production, companies need to install both electric furnaces and electrically driven compressors. iii) Emissions from the consumption of fossil fuel for heat and emissions from certain feedstocks can be abated by changing them for zero-carbon hydrogen. Hydrogen is generated by using zero-carbon electricity for the electrolysis of water. For example, ammonia production can be decarbonized by replacing the natural gas feedstock with zero-carbon hydrogen. iv) Like hydrogen, sustainably produced biomass can be used in place of some fuels and feedstocks. Depending on the fuel or feedstock required, biomass in a solid (wood, charcoal), liquid (biodiesel, bioethanol), or gaseous (biogas) form can be used. For example, steel producers in Brazil use charcoal as a fuel and feedstock instead of coal, and chemical producers in several European countries experiment with bionaphtha in chemicals production.
Attaching importance to Green Hydrogen
The National Green Hydrogen Mission, launched on 4th January 2023, is expected to lead to development of 5 Million Metric Tons per annum of Green Hydrogen production capacity by 2030.
Request for Selection (RfS) was also issued for Selection of Green Hydrogen Producers for Setting up Production Facilities of 450,000 tons for Green Hydrogen in India under the Strategic Interventions for Green Hydrogen Transition (SIGHT) Scheme (Mode-1-Tranche-I) on 10th July 2023. Last date for submission of bids was 12th December 2023.
RfS was issued for the Selection of Electrolyser Manufacturers (EM) for Setting up 1.5 GW annual Electrolyser Manufacturing Capacities under SIGHT Scheme (Tranche-I) on 7th July 2023. Last date for submission of bids was 12th December 2023.
The National Green Hydrogen Mission aims to develop India as a global hub for production, usage and exports of Green Hydrogen and its derivatives. The Mission is expected to promote multilateral engagement and collaboration with various international efforts in Hydrogen and fuel cells. Cooperation among academia, universities, technical institutions, industry and research laboratories is likely to be facilitated under bilateral and multilateral collaboration programmes for result-oriented technology development, knowledge creation and dissemination.
Promoting Electric Vehicles (EVs) and setting up EV charging stations
Under phase-II of FAME India Scheme, subsidy amounting to Rs. 5,248 crore has been given to EV manufactures on sale of 11,61,350 no. of EVs as on 05.12.2023.
The Ministry of Heavy Industries (MHI) has sanctioned 6,862 electric buses to various cities/STUs/State Govt. entities for intracity operations. Out of 6,862 e-buses, 3,487 e-buses have been supplied to STUs (State Transport Undertakings) till 29.11.2023.
MHI has also sanctioned Rs. 800 Cr. as capital subsidy to the three Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoPNG) for establishment of 7,432 EV public charging stations. Further, 148 EV charging stations were sanctioned to other entities under this scheme.
Under FAME-India Scheme phase-II, no incentive is given to EV manufacturers/ companies. The incentive or concession is provided to consumers (buyers or end users) in the form of an upfront reduced purchase price of hybrid and electric vehicles to enable wider adoption, which will be reimbursed to the OEM (EV manufacturers) by Government of India. A total of 62 OEMs have been registered as on 29.11.2023 to avail demand incentive under the scheme.
Although in the span of this small article, I have touched upon a few (in-country) initiatives, the list of developments is much bigger. For example: GoI has taken several steps and initiatives to promote and accelerate renewable energy capacity in the country with the target to achieve 500 GW of installed electric capacity from non-fossil sources by 2030. GoI also plays a major role in promoting solar energy globally.
India is providing assistance of Rs.100 crore per year to International Solar Alliance (ISA) for 2022-23, 2023-24 and 2024-25 to help energy transition, especially in developing and emerging economies. The Global Solar Facility (GSF) has been designed to catalyse solar investments in underserved segments and geographies across Africa, unlocking commercial capital in the process. GoI is considering a $25 million investment as capital contribution in the GSF in addition to $10 million coming from the ISA. Bloomberg Philanthropies and CIFF have also committed their support to the GSF.
By P. K. Chatterjee (PK)