The country's economic progress is being complimented by a fresh focus on renewable energy. The Global Renewable Energy Investment Meeting and Expo, opened by PM Modi, will showcase solutions and plans for a post-Covid economic surge.
While the Indian economy is showing signs of renewed vigour, following the government imposed lockdown, which was necessary to arrest the spread of the Covid-19 virus and save lives, the economic renewal is being complimented by a fresh focus on renewable energy. It has now become amply evident that India will need out-of-the-box approaches in renewable, low carbon, carbon recycle techniques and breakthrough in renewable energy and energy storage and utilization.
This is the new normal as the country prepares itself to meet the expectations of the future. If this approach is followed according to plan then India would be poised to record express growth in the post-Covid era. There are no shortcuts to this approach as the Indian economy has already sounded the bugle that it is the venue to do business in the future.
The country's own per capita energy requirements will be twice as much as it is today matching the world's energy usage as well. In this context, preparing for a future with clean and green energy is inevitable. The call, therefore, is for innovation in energy storage and utilization giving rise to prospects, unlimited opportunities and the constant emergence of startups as the nations prepares to produce growing levels of energy to sustain the economy while safeguarding the environment and addressing the climate control obligations pledged by the government.
Fully aware of the growing potential that India is offering for the future the government is already being inundated with requests for partnerships in renewable energy by foreign entities. “The potential investment opportunity for this will be at least Rs. 1 lakh crore per years over the next decade,” stated energy secretary Indu Shekhar Chaturvedi. As if to echo his views countries like the UK, Germany, France, Australia, Denmark, and Maldives - will be partners in the Global Renewable Energy Investment Meeting and Expo, which Indian prime minister Narendra Modi opened yesterday (Thursday) with over 200 manufacturers, developers and investors taking part. “Bilaterally, we see interest abroad in the Indian renewable energy story. Countries with impressive renewable energy capacities and experience are keen to partner with India,” Chaturvedi added.
India and France have already laid the foundation for an International Solar Alliance with more than 122 countries in 2016. The country has been focusing on solar energy for more than eight years and aims to acquire solar power manufacturing capacity of 100 gigawatt by 2022 with an investment of $100 billion.
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India will, nevertheless, have its work cut out to fulfil its pledge made during the Paris Agreement in 2015. Under the Paris Agreement, India had committed to creating a cumulative carbon sink of 2.5-3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030.
Currently, India's forest and tree cover is about 24 percent of its geographical area, according to India's State of Forest Report 2017 and India has repeatedly highlighted that it wants to bring at least 33 percent of its total area under green cover. The draft of India's National Forest Policy 2018 also mentions that to achieve the national goal for eco-security, the country should have a minimum of one-third of the total land area under forest and tree cover.
Besides the forest cover goal, for the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, India had also pledged to unconditionally reduce the emission intensity of its Gross Domestic Product by 30-35 percent from 2005 level by 2030 and achieve 40 percent of its installed power capacity from renewables.
On India's promise of reducing the emission intensity (of all greenhouse gases), the report noted India's progress of already having reduced its emission intensity by 12 percent from 2005 level to 2010 and by 21 percent over the 2005-2014 period.
According to a report, 'Truth Behind the Climate Pledges', published by the Universal Ecological Fund, a US based nonprofit research organisation working on issues related to climate change that provided an examination of the climate pledges made by nations noted that 75 percent of the total climate pledges made under the agreement are “inadequate to slow climate change,” and some of the world's largest emitters like the US, China and India will continue to increase emissions. The report stated that emissions from the top four emitters account for 56 percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions - China (26.8 percent), the U.S. (13.1 percent), the European Union and its 28 member states (nine percent) and India (seven percent).
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These numbers will need to be reversed by India. There are, however, some signs of optimism as indicated in the same report. Though the report ranked Indian's assurances as “insufficient”, it noted that India's carbon dioxide emissions per person have doubled since 1990, but its historical emissions were very low, and current emissions are significantly lower than most industrialised countries.
“Currently, a person in India emits less than two tons of carbon dioxide per year, which is less than half of what a person in Sweden or a third of what a person in Italy emits,” the report observed. While these observations are to be noted there are, however, alternative explanations defending India's position as well given that developing and developed nations should not be equated with the same index.
Renewable energy is now becoming the focus of India's electricity plans. Despite the destruction caused by the pandemic on the economic front the energy sector has performed creditably. In the last six months bids for over 15,000 mega watt (MW) solar and wind capacities have been finalized.
“Storage of energy has become an important component of the energy value chain,” observed Reji Kumar Pillai, President, India Smart grid Forum and Chairman - Global Smart Energy Federation in an exclusive interview to India Global Business. Pillai who is a heavyweight expert and thought leader with global acclaim in the energy space observed that “The biggest issues around the world are - Access to quality electricity, availability of it, affordability of it and reliability of it. These issues must be addressed with today's technology that is at our disposal. After that it is adoption and scale up and thereafter all stakeholders coming together on a common platform to make it happen.”
Pillai observed that he currently sees a lot of progress in the energy sector in India. “One of them is in privatization. The government is keen that the distribution of power majorly remains with state governments, across the length and breadth of the country, except in big cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Ahmedabad etc. This is going to be privatized on a fast track basis. A Request for Proposal (RFP) has been issued for Chandigarh and five other union territories will follow very soon including some states. There have been reforms carried out in the distribution utilities.”
Despite the onerous task that lies ahead of it, India is showing the will and intent to be seen as a responsible global citizen with appreciation for the needs of the future generations. The Global Renewable Energy Investment Meeting and Expo (RE-Invest 2020), organised by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is a reflection of the country's commitment.