Context:

  • For the renewable energies in India, there is a pressing need for real reforms, which must involve the capacity to manage more uncertainty, and a move towards a single, pan-India renewable energy market.

Renewable energy in India:

India has taken the lead in the renewable energy sector in the world with solar power at the centre of its renewable policy framework. The country is aiming to expand its renewable energy capacities to a record level making it the world’s largest green energy producer nation.

  • Renewable energy in Indiacomes under the purview of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).

Statistical Data:

  • India’s overall installed capacity has reached 329.4 GW, with renewable energies accounting for 57.472 GW as of 14 June 2017.

Wind energy:

  • As of 28 February 2017 the installed capacity of wind power in India was 29151.
  • Wind power accounts for 14% of India’s total installed power capacity.
  • India has set an ambitious target to generate 60,000 MW of electricity from wind power by 2022.

Solar energy:

  • Announced in November 2009, the Government of India proposed to launch its Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, under which, the mission aims to achieve grid parity (electricity delivered at the same cost and quality as that delivered on the grid) by 2020.
  • Achieving this target would establish India as a global leader in solar power generation.

Waste:

  • Every year, about 55 million tonnes of municipal solid waste (MSW) and 38 billion litres of sewage are generated in the urban areas of India.
  • Waste water treatment plants in the country have been established which produce renewable energy from sewage gas.
  • Also wastes from the distillery sector are on some sites converted into biogas to run in a gas engine to generate onsite power.

Government initiatives:

  • Realizing the need for concentrated efforts in this sector, The Government of India established a Commission for Additional Sources of Energy (CASE) in the Department of Science and Technology, in 1981.
  • The mandate of CASE is to promote research and development activities in the field of renewable energy.
  • The State Nodal Agencies are responsible for promotion and development of private sector projects by way of providing necessary clearances, allotment of land, allotment of potential sites in case of SHP projects and facilitating power purchase agreements etc.
  • The government has been able to bring the cost of renewable energy generation to below grid parity.
  • Reduction in cost of equipments, finance and tariff provides a good potential for growth renewable energy sector.
  • As per the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy MNRE officials, India has set an ambitious target to set up renewable energy capacities to the tune of 175 gigawatts (GW) by 2022 .
  • As part of the government’s initiatives to take renewable energy to remote places, Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy, on May 24th, 2017, launched the solar mini-grids project during 52nd annual meet of African Development Bank (AfDB) at Gandhinagar.
  • Mini Grids are defined as systems having renewable energy-based electricity generation.
  • The Solar Mini Grids project has an objective of taking advantage of the available solutions to promote universal energy access by 2025 and reduce electricity costs and tariffs through introduction and promotion of mini-grids for harnessing solar power in a time-bound manner.

Advantages of Renewable Energy:

  • Renewable energy is a clean source of energy, meaning, it has low or zero carbon and greenhouse emission.
  • Fossil fuels emit high levels of greenhouse gas and carbon dioxide, which are greatly responsible for global warming, climate change, and degradation of air quality.
  • Renewable resource does not deplete over a lifetime and there is zero possibility that they will run out (sustainable source of energy).
  • Sources of energy like fossil fuels (oil, gas, and coal) are considered limited resources and there is strong possibility that they will run out in the future.
  • Although most argue that solar and wind energy is unreliable, a solid infrastructure puts this argument to rest.
  • If solar and wind plants are distributed over a large geographical location, there can be minimal electricity generation interruption because weather disruptions in one location cannot be the same in other locations.
  • Since the inception of renewable energy, new and stable jobs have been added to most world economies.

Disadvantages of Renewable energy:

  • There are still challenges to generation of large quantities of power in renewable energy technology compared to traditional forms of energy generation like fossil fuel. In comparison, today, Fossil fuel still produces large quantities of electricity.
  • In case atmospheric conditions are not good enough, renewable energy technologies would lack the ability to generate any electricity.
  • Renewable energy technologies are still significantly new to the market, meaning, they still lack the much-needed efficiency.
  • Installation of wind turbine, solar panels, and hydroelectricity plants are relatively expensive.
  • These plants require upfront investments to build, have high maintenance expenses and require careful planning and implementation.
  • Also, the electricity generated needs to be delivered to towns and cities, which means additional cost of installing power lines.
  • An increased uncertainty in an underinvested grid can easily cause obstruction and higher costs and any given hot spot can trigger a region-wide blackout.
  • Managing uncertainty individually is expensive.
  • But the current regulations of the government is asking each operator to furnish a production schedule which is neither cheap nor an improvement (the risk of divining weather conditions is merely passed on to others).

Suggestions:

  • The Indian government needs to increase compliance with the Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO).
  • The government also needs to ensure that India’s distribution companies have the capacity to continue to purchase renewable electricity, especially if bid prices level off or rise.
  • India must create regional structures so that utilities are not limited by state borders in maximizing the use of national renewable energy resources.
  • The country also needs a clear programme of investment in pumped storage.

 

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