Net Zero Journey: A Collective Responsibility

Indian government has taken up the Net Zero target very seriously. The union government is trying its level-best to facilitate progress in the direction of carbon neutrality. Although things are a bit slow, we are now tuned to move forward. It is the responsibility of the entire nation… - P. K. Chatterjee (PK)

In different contexts, one very common thing is communicated to all management students – that is if the top level of management really wants, it can remould the outlook of the entire organisation. A few years back, the term ‘India Incorporated’ was often used by the Indian media to refer to the formal (comprising government and corporate) sector of the nation. In fact, if we look from another angle, our country, as a whole, is quite similar to a big corporate firm. Our present union government holds strong determination to speed up our journey towards achieving the Net Zero state.

The strategy has been well understood by the Indian corporate sector, and due to obvious reason the transformation is more clearly perceptible in the actions of government or semi-government organisations. With innovative ideas, they are actively working towards reaching the Net Zero goal. However, now many private firms are also significantly contributing to the Net Zero mission.

In this article, I will highlight a few such actions of these companies where union government is a major stake-holder. Also, briefly I will touch upon the benefits from easing the ‘Green Energy Open Access’ rules.


NTPC, the largest power-generating utility in India; and Chempolis India, a Fortum group associate company and a leading Finnish bio-refining technology provider; have signed a  Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to explore the feasibility of setting up a ‘Bamboo-based Bio-Refinery’ in Bongaigaon. Chempolis will work with NTPC to conduct the feasibility study for the project that shall utilize bamboo for the production of 2G Ethanol, Bio-Coal for thermal power plant & other value-added products.

The proposed Bio-Refinery has been planned as an integration project with NTPC Bongaigaon Power Plant, where all utility requirements such as steam, power, etc., shall be supplied from the power plant and the Bio-Coal produced by the Bio-Refinery shall partly replace coal in the power plant, effectively converting 5% of the generation of the power plant to green. The project will support NTPC’s decarbonization efforts, create job opportunities and build a sustainable model by promoting the use of locally available resources. EIL is the Project Consultant for NTPC for preparation of the Detailed Project Report.

The MoU was signed in presence of NTPC Director-HR Dilip Kumar Patel, EIL Director-HR Ashok Kumar Kalra & Chempolis President & CEO Markus Alholm…

Power Finance Corporation Ltd (PFC)

Power Finance Corporation Ltd (PFC), a Maharatna company and the leading NBFC in Indian power sector, has sanctioned a loan of `633 crores to Gensol Engineering Ltd (GEL) for purchase of 5000 passenger Electric Vehicles (EVs) and 1000 cargo EVs. The passenger EVs will be leased to Blusmart Mobility Pvt Ltd (BMPL) to expand its fleet of ride-hailing cabs. The first tranche of the loan has been disbursed, and the first lot of EV cabs has hit the roads of Delhi.

The 5000 passenger e4Ws (Electric Four-Wheelers) funded by PFC are being deployed in Delhi and would result in emission savings of over 1,00,000 tons of CO2 equivalent. This is equivalent to the amount of CO2 absorbed by over 5 million fully-grown trees in a year. With a vision of accelerating India’s Net Zero goal, PFC, apart from funding renewables in a big way, has been exploring opportunities in debt funding of EVs (OEMs and fleet acquisition), Battery OEMs and EV charging infrastructure.

The cabs were flagged off by Ajay Tewari, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Power; and Ravinder Singh Dhillon, CMD, PFC on April 20, 2023…

Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL)

Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP) on 5th January, 2015. EESL was entrusted the charge of implementing that across the country.

SLNP is a voluntary programme. Under the programme, EESL had set an objective of converting an estimated number of 1.34 crores of existing conventional street lights across all Urban Local Bodies (ULBs)/Gram Panchayats (GPs) of the country with energy efficient LED street lights in five years. For this purpose, EESL enters into agreements with ULBs/GPs directly or through the concerned State or UT Governments before replacement of street lights is taken up.

Being a voluntary programme, no specific targets have been set for SLNP. So far, EESL has installed more than 1.28 Cr. LED street lights across 29 States and/or UTs. It is well established that for every replacement of halogen bulb with equally bright LED lamp, it saves around 5kgs of CO2 emissions per year. So, the actual savings stands around 64,000 tons of CO2.

Emission saving through nuclear power

Our nuclear power industry is saving around 41 million tonnes of CO2 emissions annually, compared to the emissions that would be generated by equivalent electricity generation from coal-based thermal power plants.

At present, Indian nuclear power industry is providing around 3% of total electricity generation in the country. Sufficient production and share of nuclear power is essential for ensuring our country’s energy security. Our current policy targets a three-fold rise in nuclear installed capacity by 2032. Also, the union government is exploring a significantly greater role for nuclear power.

‘Green Energy Open Access’ rules

Last year the Ministry of Power (MoP) has further modified the provisions of the Green Energy Open Access rules in order to further accelerate our ambitious renewable energy programmes, with the objective of ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and green energy for all.

The reduction of Open Access Transaction limit from 1 MW to 100 kW and appropriate provisions for cross-subsidy surcharge, additional surcharge, standby charge, will incentivize the common consumers to get Green Power at reasonable rates. Further, since the rules also address other issues that have hindered the growth of open access, the common consumers can now get access to Renewable Energy power easily.

List of a few features and benefits to common consumers from ‘Green Energy Open Access’ modification is as hereafter:

  • These rules are notified for promoting generation, purchase and consumption of green energy including the energy from Waste-to-Energy plants.
  • The Green Open Access is allowed to any consumer and the limit of Open Access Transaction has been reduced from 1 MW (Electricity Act 2003) to 100 kW for green energy, to enable small consumers also to purchase renewable power through open access.
  • Consumers are entitled to demand supply of Green Power from Discoms. Discoms would be obligated to procure and supply green power to eligible consumers.
  • These rules will also streamline the overall approval process for granting open access. Time bound processing by bringing uniformity and transparency in the application – as well as approval of open access through a national portal has been mandated. Approval for Green Open Access is to be granted in 15 days or else it will be deemed to have been granted.
  • Commercial and industrial consumers are allowed to purchase green power on voluntarily basis.
  • Provide certainty on open access charges to be levied on Green Energy Open Access Consumers, which includes transmission charges, wheeling charges, cross-subsidy surcharge and standby charges. Cap on increasing of cross-subsidy surcharge as well as the removal of additional surcharge, incentivize the consumers to go green.
  • There shall be a uniform Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO), on all obligated entities in area of a distribution licensee. Green Hydrogen/Green Ammonia has also been included for fulfilment of its RPO.
  • Consumers will be given Green Certificates if they consume green power.

Final words

As I started saying that if the top level sincerely wants, the process of changing focus starts, in a big country like India, things cannot change overnight. However, the process has started. Although not discussed here, being inspired by the government’s focus and favourable policies, many captive renewable power plants are coming up with the initiative of the non-governmental entities. Some are already in operation.

It is not only the power generation, our government is putting utmost effort to transform the existing transport system. One of the major challenges in that area is lack of charging infrastructure for e-vehicles. However, our government has been working on mitigating that challenge, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) has been selected as the Central Nodal Agency to take various initiatives for promotion of Charging Infrastructure for Electric Vehicles. According to the action plans, nine major cities have been prepared by BEE for installation of Public Charging Stations. As per the initial estimates, a total of 46,397 Public Charging Stations (PCS) are being targeted in these cities by 2030.

Our union government has been successful in initiating the Net Zero journey, providing the fuel for further progress, we have to use the opportunities and accelerate the same.

By P. K. Chatterjee (PK)

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