Remarks by Bhupinder Singh Bhalla: Renewable energy tariffs have attained grid parity

Renewable energy tariffs have attained grid parity

Bhupinder Singh Bhalla, Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy

With the global concerns surrounding climate change and overall environmental degradation, sustainable energy use has become a key priority worldwide. India, with its impressive progress in the field of renewable energy and its ambitious clean energy targets, has become a global leader in this space. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has been responsible for many of the reforms that have led India’s power sector to this stage. Bhupinder Singh Bhalla has taken charge as secretary in the ministry at an exciting time of rapid renewable energy expansion and the emergence of new opportunities in segments such as hybrids, green hydrogen, offshore wind, distributed solar and domestic manufacturing. Against this backdrop, he gave an address on “Citizen-centric Energy Transition: Empowering Citizens with Mission LiFE” at the India Pavilion at COP27 in Egypt. Edited excerpts…

The Honourable Prime Minister of India introduced the concept of LiFE or Lifestyle for the Environment Movem­e­nt at COP26 as a “mindful and deliberate utilisation” to preserve the environment ins­tead of “mindless and wasteful consu­m­ption”. The underlying principles define it to be “corrective action” with “nudging be­ha­viour”. It aims to create an ecosystem that re­inforces and enables environmentally friendly behaviour to be self-sustainable with the help of pro-planet people who sha­re a commitment towards a cau­se. We in­te­nd to replace the widely prevalent “use and dispose” economy to create a circular economy that promotes reduce, reuse and recycle. The herculean task of fighting climate change and building a sustainable future cannot be accomplish­ed by government institutions and industry alone. To ad­d­ress climate action effectively, we need citi­zens to be aware of the climate threat and its implications. Thus, it is important for citizens to make voluntary behavioural ch­an­ges at the individual and community levels.

India has been championing and working for a call for citizen-centric energy transiti­on. Keeping citizens at the centre of the glo­bal transition will help ensure a just, in­clusive and equitable transition that lea­ves no one behind. We have undertaken several bold steps for the same. We have provided universal access to electricity by el­ec­trifying more than 18,000 villages within 1,000 days. Also, we provided the same to more than 28 million hou­se­holds in a period of just 18 months. It is the largest ex­pan­sion of access in such a short time anywhere in the world. With the help of the PM Ujjwala scheme, India has ensured access to cle­an cooking to about 95 million households.

Renewable energy deployment in India has grown by leaps and bounds, particularly over the last seven to eight years. India’s total non-fossil fuel-based installed capacity stands at around 172 GW, which is ab­out 42 per cent of the total installed power generation capacity of 408 GW as of September 2022. Renewable energy tariffs have attained grid parity, making renewable power more affordable for consumers. Also, we have witnessed the benefits of citizen-centric schemes with programmes such as rooftop solar and PM KUSUM that are transforming consumers into pro-consumers. These schemes play a three-pronged role that helps improve livelihood and increase savings for the end-user. Further, it helps reduce carbon emissions and increase awareness among citizens on the need to switch to low carbon sources of energy and contribute to the transition. Decentralised renewable en­ergy solutions have helped ensure access to clean energy in the remotest parts of the country.

They have significantly reduced the drudgery of collecting firewood, im­proving livelihoods and health and helping avoid emissions. Several innovative energy efficiency mechanisms and national programmes have been successfully designed and im­plemented in the country. For instance, Per­fo­rm, Ac­hie­­ve and Trade for industry, standards and labelling for energy efficient appliances, the street lighting national programme, and energy conservation building codes. During financial year 2021, the adoption of energy efficient schemes and programmes led to overall thermal energy savings of about 21.4 million tonnes of oil equivalent, amounting to around $5 billion.

There has been a reduction of over 78 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in India. By adopting energy efficiency measures, India has the potential to reduce around 890 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. All these initiatives have been designed to address the nee­ds of common citizens in an environmentally sustainable manner. We feel that the “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle” mantra has always been an inherent part of our consumption choices. Countries can no lon­ger afford to view environmental de­gra­da­tion or climate change in isolation. These are challenges for the entire global citizenry and the world needs to come together to fight these.