It all started from the ambitious declaration of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi in COP 21 on November 30, 2015. There he said, “Democratic India must grow rapidly to meet the aspirations of 1.25 billion people, 300 million of whom are without access to energy. We are determined to do so, guided by our ancient belief that people and planet are inseparable; that human well-being and nature are indivisible. So, we have set ambitious targets. By 2030, we will reduce emissions by 33 to 35% of 2005 levels, and 40% of our installed capacity will be from our non- fossil fuels.”
In his speech, he boldly declared, “Today, when the energy sources and excesses of our industrial age have put our planet in peril, the world must turn to Sun to power our future. As the developing world lift billions of people into prosperity, our hope for a sustainable planet rests on a bold global initiative. It will mean advanced countries leaving enough carbon space for developing countries to grow. That is natural climate justice.
It also means a growth path with lighter carbon footprint. So, convergence between economy, ecology and energy should define our future. The vast majority of humanity is blessed with generous sunlight round the year. Yet, many are also without any source of power. This is why this alliance is so important. We want to bring solar energy into our lives and homes, by making it cheaper, more reliable and easier to connect to grid. We will collaborate on research and innovation. We will share knowledge and exchange best practices. We will cooperate on training and building institutions. We will discuss regulatory issues and promote common standards. We will attract investments in the solar sector, encourage joint ventures and develop innovative financing mechanisms. We will partner with other international initiatives on renewable energy. There is already a revolution in solar energy. Technology is evolving, costs are coming down and grid connectivity is improving. It is making the dream of universal access to clean energy become more real.”
Stress on increasing clean energy generation
Prior to COP 21 meet, on 17th June, 2015, the Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister approved the proposal for stepping up India’s solar power capacity target under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) by five times, reaching 1,00,000 MW by 2022.
The target consisted of 40 GW Rooftop and 60 GW through Large and Medium Scale Grid Connected Solar Power Projects. With this ambitious target, India would become one of the largest Green Energy producers in the world, surpassing several developed countries.
The Indian government at that point, decided to go for a total investment around Rs. 6,00,000 crores for harnessing 100 GW of renewable energy. In the first phase, the government decided to provide Rs. 15,050 crore as capital subsidy to promote solar capacity addition in the country – targeting Rooftop Solar projects in various cities and towns, for Viability Gap Funding (VGF) based projects to be developed through the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) and for decentralized generation through small solar projects. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) intended to achieve the target of 1,00,000 MW with targets under the three schemes of 19,200 MW.
Also, the government chalked out many solar power projects with investment of about Rs. 90,000 crore, which would be developed using Bundling mechanism with thermal power. Further investment had to come through large Public Sector Undertakings and Independent Power Producers (IPPs). State governments too came forward with state-specific solar policies to promote solar capacity addition.
Where are we today?
As per the latest information from the Government of India, the total installed renewable energy capacity in India, excluding large hydro, has crossed the mile-stone of 100 GW. Today India stands at 4th position in the world in terms of installed RE capacity, 5th in solar and 4th in wind in terms of installed capacity.
Our country has set ambitious targets for itself in the area of Renewable Energy (RE), which the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is committed to achieve.
While 100 GW has been installed, 50 GW is under installation and 27 GW is under tendering. India has also enhanced its ambition to install 450 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030. If large hydro is included the installed RE capacity increases to 146 GW.
Commenting on the achievement, on 12th August, 2021, Union Minister for Power and New and Renewable Energy, R. K. Singh has tweeted, “The achievement of installed RE capacity of 100 GW is an important milestone in India’s journey towards its target of 450 GW by 2030.”
Let us also see where we stand as far as our emission reduction target is concerned. According to a recent report from the Government of India, “India has already achieved emission reduction of 28% over 2005 levels, against the target of 35% by 2030.”
This has put our country in the list of a few countries in the world, which have kept to their Paris Climate Change (COP21) commitments along with an exponential increase in renewable energy capacity. Considering the pace of development in the energy sector, India is determined to not only achieve, but to exceed its NDC commitments well within the committed time frame.
What is next?
During delivering his keynote address at the ‘INDIA-ISA Energy Transition Dialogue 2021’ organized by the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), RK Singh, who is also the President of International Solar Alliance, stated that – from time-to-time, the Government of India has enacted favourable policies and regulations to boost the clean energy sector. India has been aggressively pushing for energy efficiency improvements for the past two decades through a combination of innovative market mechanisms and business models, institutional strengthening and capacity building, as well as demand creation measures.
He also added that – the key is to allow the regulatory and policy support to keep the sector afloat till the supply-side strengthens, technology develops and competitive market takes root resulting in a fall in prices, and the industry becomes self-sustainable.
According to him, it is anticipated that by 2050, 80-85% of India’s overall power capacity will come from renewables. India has already touched 200 GW of peak demand. The demand had crossed what it was during pre-COVID time and it is expected that electricity demand will continue to rise. This gives us the space for adding more renewables capacity, but it will call for power system flexibility and introduction of various storage technologies.
He feels that active private sector continued to strengthen the supply side through capacity building exercises. The story is expected to be repeated in the years to come with advanced technologies, such as energy storage and green hydrogen. Dedicated Green Energy Corridors initiated by the MNRE have made it easier for renewable energy developers to avail grid connectivity and evacuate up to 40,000 MW of large-scale renewable energy from renewable energy-rich parts of India. Going ahead, similar initiatives would be employed to push for adoption and installation of floating solar power plants in water bodies and reservoirs across the country.
We all know the old proverb, ‘History repeats itself’. We are also aware of the fact that in the last more than one year, our country has been passing through a very bad economic condition because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, as far as harnessing the RE is concerned, our adroit Ministry of Power has reached the 100 GW mark. Also, there is 50 GW under installation and 27 GW is under tendering… So, there is no doubt that we are definitely on the track.
By P. K. Chatterjee (PK)