Six years back, under the leadership of our respected Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India realised the efficacy of Solar Energy as the growth accelerator of the sustainable future. When the international pressure was mounting for phasing out fossil fuels by 2050 globally, India was not at all near the periphery of the era of fossil-fuel-free power generation. That time, in an interview, the ex-Environment Minister of India Jairam Ramesh said, “India is certainly under the international gaze because its coal consumption is expected to go up three times at a very minimum over the next 15 years, and this has understandably caused a lot of concern.” However in February this year, an analysis by energy think tank Ember revealed that India’s coal-fired electricity generation fell 5% last year due to significantly reduced annual electricity demand as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown. Ember’s study also noted that the coal generation in India – the third-largest emitting country – was down by 8% in 2020 compared to 2018. But still the highly polluting fossil fuel remains the dominant source of electricity, generating 71% of the nation’s power throughout last year. Ember’s Senior Analyst Aditya Lolla noted: it seems increasingly likely that coal power will plateau in the 2020s in India, But he warned there is still a risk the country could be ‘knocked off the course’. As per Lolla, “As India recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic shock, the choices it makes in the next decade will make or break its coal-to-clean electricity transition.”
I completely agree with him. I feel, now, the authorities need to be much more vigilant on timely completion of the solar projects. Although, at present onshore wind and solar are the cheapest sources of energy, owing to our huge landmass and an average of 300 sunny days a year, harnessing maximum solar energy is easier and cost-effective for India.
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