April 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has devastated lives and economies around the world. But directing stimulus funds towards green infrastructure will enable nations to supercharge their recovery, become more resilient to crises and save trillions of dollars, states a new report by the IRENA. The report, “Global Renewables Outlook: Energy Transformation 2050”, claims that current global investment plans will require $95 trillion to maintain a course of “business as usual”, while a decarbonisation path totalling $110 trillion would create “massive” socio-economic gains, generating savings of between $50 trillion and $142 trillion by 2050.

While IRENA’s aim is to promote energy transformation, its view is now also being shared by a number of industry experts and investors globally – that by accelerating renewables and making energy transition an integral part of the wider recovery, governments can achieve multiple economic and social objectives.

In a noteworthy development, BlackRock’s Global Energy and Power Infrastructure Fund has achieved a $5.1 billion fundraising for the Global Energy and Power Infrastructure Fund III (GEPIF III), making it the most substantial alternative fundraising in the company’s history. The final value of $5.1 billion exceeded the original fund target of $3.5 billion and the hard cap of $4.5 billion, indicating a strong investor inclination towards clean energy. GEPIF III caters to energy subsectors, including power generated from renewable sources such as solar, wind, hydro, natural gas, energy transportation and storage, and the utility sector.

India too is not behind in recognising and working towards this trend. The government has been making determined efforts to safeguard the interests of the renewable energy sector during the period of lockdown. Project deadlines have been extended by invoking the force majeure clause. Projects in Covid-19-free zones have been allowed to resume construction. State utilities have been notified by the MNRE to ensure must-run status for renewable energy projects. Power offtake has been guaranteed. Banked energy deadlines have been extended for rooftop, captive and open access projects.

Moreover, with a growing sentiment among companies to shift their manufacturing base from China in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic, India is preparing to introduce policy changes to facilitate manufacturing in the country. If successfully implemented, this move would help attract significant investments to the sector.

The proposed Electricity Amendment Act, 2020 also pays significant attention to energy transition, in order to have a greater share of renewables. The draft bill proposes to bring in a National Renewable Energy Policy and ensure that a minimum percentage of the energy purchased by the states comes from renewable sources.

On an optimistic note, it seems that the renewable energy sector, post the pandemic period, could well come out stronger and brighter, in India as well as globally.

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