India’s renewable energy sector has crossed an important milestone. In August 2021, the country’s total installed renewable energy capacity, excluding large hydro, crossed 100 GW. Counting large hydro projects, the installed renewable energy capacity amounts to 146 GW. Following this development, India now stands at the fourth position globally, in terms of installed renewable energy capacity. Aside from the 100 GW of installed renewable capacity, 50 GW and 27 GW is under installation and tendering respectively. These developments are in line with India’s ambitious targets of installing 450 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030. At various recent events, Raj Kumar Singh, union minister for power and new and renewable energy, shared his perspective on the measures being taken to further scale up the country’s renewable energy capacity, promote energy efficiency, combat climate change, and reduce carbon emissions intensity. Renewable Watch presents edited excerpts from these public statements…
On renewable energy capacity expansion
The Indian government had set a target of 175 GW of installed renewable energy capacity by 2022, – 100 GW from solar, 60 GW from wind, 10 GW from biomass and 5 GW from small hydro. As of July 30, 2021, the total installed capacity of renewable energy projects under installation or tied up is 96.95 GW. This does not include large hydro projects, which are now classified under renewables. As of July 30, 2021, the total installed power generation capacity from non-fossil fuel sources is 150.06 GW. This comprises 39 per cent of the total installed capacity. Therefore, India is well on its way to achieving and surpassing its nationally determined contribution (NDC) target of having 40 per cent of the installed capacity originating from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030. Further, to promote renewable energy projects, the following steps have been taken:
- Waiver of inter-state transmission charges on transmission of electricity generated from solar and wind projects commissioned up to June 30, 2025
- Development of green energy corridors to evacuate power from renewable energy projects
- Notification of a renewable purchase obligation trajectory, with the objective of creating 175 GW of renewable power capacity by 2022.
The government had taken several policy initiatives in the past for the development of hydropower projects. These include the National Electricity Policy, 2005; the National Tariff Policy, 2016; the National Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy, 2007; and the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.
Subsequently, on March 8, 2019, the government issued measures to promote the hydropower sector with the following provisions:
- Declaring large hydro projects (more than 25 MW) as renewable energy sources
- Tariff rationalisation measures for bringing down hydropower tariffs
- Budgetary support for flood moderation/storage
- Budgetary support for enabling infrastructure such as roads and bridges
On January 29, 2021, the hydro purchase obligation trajectory for the period 2021-22 to 2029-30 was notified by the government. These measures will be particularly beneficial for the development of hydro projects in hilly regions that are often located in remote and far-flung areas. These areas require the development of extensive associated infrastructure such as roads and bridges for transportation of heavy, large-sized equipment and machinery to the project site.
On energy efficiency
For over a decade, the entire world’s focus has been on global warming. It is an important topic, as global warming is leading to climate change, desertification and extreme climate events, and many species are becoming extinct. Despite many conferences, beginning with the Kyoto Protocol, progress has been slow across the world. In November 2021, COP26 will be held at Glasgow, Scotland, where again all countries will come together to decide how to reduce carbon emissions. Despite such conferences, the rate of emissions has not abated. Unfortunately, the countries that contribute a high rate of emissions have continued to do so.
On the other hand, India’s success has been significant, despite our per capita emissions being one-third of the global average. India is the only G20 country whose actions are consistent with the goal of keeping the rise of global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius centigrade. The work of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency has contributed significantly to our endeavour to achieve the NDCs way before the target years. Its Perform, Achieve, Trade scheme resulted in the reduction of 26 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of carbon dioxide emissions at a conservative estimate. Meanwhile, the Ujjwala Plus programme led to the reduction of 172 mtpa of carbon dioxide emissions, while the Standards and Labelling programme led to the reduction of 46 mtpa of carbon dioxide emissions.
Energy demand in India is expected to increase. We will make sure that this demand is met responsibly, thus ensuring that India’s emissions intensity per capita comes down. Therefore, we have to solve two challenges together. One, developing our economy further; and two, reducing the emissions intensity per capita.
Going forward, the building sector will expand in both the residential and commercial sectors. Focus on energy efficiency in these spaces is crucial to meet the overall emission reduction targets. To promote energy efficiency in the building sector, a key area of focus should be communications and training. Under training, the aim should be to train 70-80 per cent of both architects and civil engineers in matters regarding energy efficiency.
On climate change and emissions intensity
Against the targeted emission reduction of 33-35 per cent by 2030, India has already achieved an emission reduction of 28 per cent over the 2005 levels. At this pace, India is all set to exceed its NDC commitments before 2030. India has already achieved 38.5 per cent installed capacity sourced from renewables. Counting the renewable capacity under construction, the share of renewables in the installed capacity goes up to well over 48 per cent. This number is way above the commitments made under the Paris Agreement.
I urge the G20 nations whose per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are above the world average to reduce these to the world average over the next few years. This will vacate the carbon space to some extent and support the developmental aspirations of developing nations. While the per capita emissions of many developed countries are two to three times above the world average, India’s are only one-third of the world average. I encourage the G20 nations to take immediate steps in this direction so that the world community stays on the right track and leaves a better planet for our future generations.
India is on track to achieve the renewable energy target of 450 GW by 2030. Electricity distribution reforms and the promotion of open access will enhance renewable energy consumption. India can boast of several achievements in the fields of renewable energy, energy access, energy efficiency and reduction in emission intensity. Further, the government plans to promote manufacturing and exports through the production-linked incentive scheme for manufacturing of solar cells, modules and batteries, and also focus on green hydrogen.