23 July 2017

Renewable Energy’s Path in India


Renewable Energy in India

Today in India renewable energy is the highest and top most priority, especially so with the new government having focused on this issue for a long time and also for the reason that it was a priority for the BJP to make utilization of improved renewable energy a reality with a mention in their manifesto. For that alone to be a reality, India has seen a large number of independent companies working around the clock to support this cause with a grid and allow the government to function and pursue a bottom-up approach with renewable energy that not only generates energy source for consumption but also remains sustainable for a long time. The first is Solar, because solar power can be deployed in very small increments and distributed over micro-grids that can be connected to larger grids or stand alone as their own off-grid resources. This makes it much more accommodating to build-out in areas with sparse energy infrastructure such as rural India. While the demand for solar power is getting a big push from the bottom, efforts at the top will provide additional pull and the new government is seeing that it is implemented appropriately and fiercely.

How and When will Improved Renewable Energy be a Reality

Earlier this year BJP had stated that it would implement the National Solar Mission in an even more aggressive manner than it is being currently implemented. Their promise has some weight too. Their Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi launched the most aggressive state solar policy in the country a year before the INC had even announced the national solar mission during the UPA rule. Five years on, Gujarat remains the leader in solar power capacity among all states in India. For this initiative alone, the new government can begin to work in providing loan guarantees and financial access for clean energy companies to help them succeed where other administrations have failed, and most importantly, during Modi’s tenure as chief minister of the sun-soaked northwestern Indian state of Gujarat, power reached a surplus, creating envy in the rest of the country where blackouts have been quite common. He did this in part by pioneering India’s first incentives for large-scale solar power. Over four percent of Gujarat’s installed capacity, or around 825 megawatts, comes from solar photovoltaic (PV) power.

The way Modi succeeded with Solar power capacity during his time as a CM when India witnessed the largest blackouts in global history in July 2012 is another implication that Solar might get a push up for implementation in near future. The blackouts affected a population of over 620 million. This blackout was the result of a rare conjugation of several transmission lines being down for maintenance and a rather common occurrence of state governments which was not heeding to the directions of the central regulators were to be blamed for the blackouts. Surprisingly these blackouts were a strategic eye opener as they highlighted the collapse of the energy infrastructure in the country.

Challenges in Implementation of Renewable Energy in India

Basically renewable energies in India are different from renewables deployed in the Americas or Europe, and understanding these differences is a key aspect to creating viable policies. Challenges such as intermittent quality or variability, location-specific potential where the focus is concentrated in areas sometimes away from consumers or the grid, and lastly the higher costs. But then making renewable energies viable for companies or producers is easy as one can pay them substantially, but the problem lies in uncertainty of the rest of the system’s handling of that. These threats are of pricing subsidies as well as high losses which are both technical and commercial, in some cases there are thefts unaccounted, so utilities already lose on average prices. Apart from some technical reasons why the Indian grid is weak, including lack of ancillary services, that is the systems designed to keep the grid stable, there are improvements in the overall structure.

Future Trends

IREDA and the French Development Agency (AFD) signed an MoU to seal the deal where The Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) recently received a gigantic investment loan from France in support of green energy sector worth €100 million. IREDA is expected to use this fund for both renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in the country. Suzlon Group announced plans to enter offshore wind power generation in India in a big way. It has already successfully set up a number of offshore wind generation in India in a big way. It has already successfully set up a number of offshore wind generation units globally. And Tulsi Tanti, the Chairman of Suzlon Group stated that they believe the BJP led government will provide an environment conducive for growth and investments, with major reforms in the infrastructure and renewable energy sector. This is important as India’s economic environment will act as a catalyst in reviving the global economy. The agreement is to help in supporting the Government of India’s focus on a low carbon growth strategy for power generation in India. Renewable energy is the only long-term sustainable solution and an answer to issues around global warming. Within this, the solar power specifically can address rural electrification challenge.

Simple and logical, renewable energies are extremely vital and worth supporting, but they need an honest accounting and extensive planning, so renewable energy is certainly expected to grow, especially because of support mechanisms. The national government has immense support mechanisms, from a dedicated ministry to various missions and programmes, but how consumers are going to support renewable energy is yet to be seen for they are yet to see the affordable price as well as improved access. This focus on renewable energy is to harness oil, gas, hydro, ocean, wind, solar, coal and nuclear energy. And it is kind of excellent to see that there has been an effort to promote the crucial issue of renewable energy which directly and indirectly impacts other critical issues of energy independence, energy equality, and economic growth.

For further details read latest report on Renewable Energy Market in India

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