Renewable Energy in India – Facts and Future prospect
GS-Paper-3 Renewable Energy – Infrastructure development- Prelims & UPSC Interview
Context: Renewable energy is the most important topic of discussion in 21st Century when the World has faced the problem of Climate change and energy security. This topic is highly important for UPSC mains examination under Paper-3 Infrastructure and Energy security.
Recently, the Prime Minister of India has announced about having huge renewable energy deployment plans for India for the next decade which are likely to generate business prospects of around $20 billion per year.
Post the inauguration of the 3rd Global Renewable Energy Investment Meeting and Expo (RE-Invest 2020), the PM addressed and invited the investors, developers and businesses to join India's renewable energy journey.
After the success of Performance Linked Incentives (PLI) in electronics manufacturing, the government has decided to give similar incentives to high efficiency solar modules.
As of 27 November 2020, 38% of India's installed electricity generation capacity is from renewable sources (136 GW out of 373 GW).
In the Paris Agreement India has committed to an Intended Nationally Determined Contributions target of achieving 40% of its total electricity generation from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030.
The country is aiming for even more ambitious target of 57% of the total electricity capacity from renewable sources by 2027 in Central Electricity Authority's strategy blueprint.
According to 2027 blueprint, India aims to have 275 GW from renewable energy, 72 GW of hydroelectricity, 15 GW of nuclear energy and nearly 100 GW from “other zero emission” sources.
Government of India has also set a target for installation of Rooftop Solar Projects(RTP) of 40 GW by 2022 including installation on rooftop of houses.
As of September 2020, 89.22 GW is already operational, projects of 48.21 GW are at various stages of implementation and projects of 25.64 GW capacity are under various stages of bidding.
India was the first country in the world to set up a ministry of non-conventional energy resources (Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE)), in the early 1980s, and its public sector undertakings the Solar Energy Corporation of India is responsible for the development of solar energy industry in India.
Hydroelectricity is administered separately by the Ministry of Power and not included in MNRE targets.
India has a strong manufacturing base in wind power with 20 manufactures of 53 different wind turbine models of international quality up to 3 MW in size with exports to Europe, the United States and other countries.
Wind or Solar PV paired with four-hour battery storage systems is already cost-competitive, without subsidy, as a source of dispatchable generation compared with new coal and new gas plants in India.
What are the initiatives taken by the government to promote renewable energy sector?
India is the first country in the world to have an exclusive ministry that is involved in the promotion and development of the renewables – Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).
Nation Green Corridor Programme: This project aims at synchronising energy that is produced from renewable energy sources with the conventional stations.
National Clean Energy Fund: It is the fund created using the carbon tax for backing research and development of innovative eco-friendly technologies.
National Biogas and Manure Management Programme (NBMMP): It is a central scheme that promotes setting up of Family Type Biogas Plants mostly for the use of rural and semi-urban households. The energy is generated from biodegradable wastes such as cow-dug, wastes from the garden, kitchen, etc.
Biomass power and cogeneration programme: This scheme aims at optimum utilization of the country’s biomass resources in the power grid.
Draft National Wind-Solar Hybrid Policy: Through this policy, the government seeks to promote new renewable energy projects and hybridisation of the existing ones. It is a policy that provides a comprehensive framework to promote large grid-connected wind-solar photovoltaic hybrid system.
Off-Grid and Decentralised Solar Photo Voltaic Applications Programme: This scheme aims to promote off-grid application of the Solar Photovoltaic (SPV) systems for meeting the lighting and electricity needs of the individuals, communities, commercial and industrial institutions.
National Offshore Wind Energy Policy: This involves the utilization of India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) for the development of offshore wind farms up to 200 Nautical Miles from the baseline.
Promotion of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects: The aim of the mega project is to set up at least 25 Solar Parks and Mega-Solar Power Projects to produce 20, 000 MW of solar energy between 2014-15 and 2021-22.
Grid Connected Solar Rooftop programme: This scheme promotes the installation of solar panels across the country. It involves the installation of the solar panel at the rooftops of the residential, commercial, industrial and institutional buildings.
Sustainable Rooftop Implementation for Solar Transfiguration of India (SRISTI) scheme: This scheme provides financial aids to the beneficiaries who install a solar power plant at the rooftop within the country.
Policy for Repowering of the Wind Power Projects: The main objective of this policy framework is to promote optimum utilization of the wind energy resources. This policy aims to replace the old wind turbines and promote a newer version of wind energy technologies.
Small Hydropower Programme: It involves the development of Small Hydro Power (SHP) Projects up to 25 MW station capacity. The potential of this programme is about 20,000 MW and it is mostly in the Himalayan States where the rivers are abundant and in States which have sufficient irrigation canals
National Solar Mission: It is a part of the National Action Plan on Climate Change. It is an initiative to promote solar power in India. This program was initiated in 2010 with a target of 20 GW by 2022. Later, this target was increased to 100 GW in 2015. By 2017-18, India has surpassed the original target of 20 GW – five years ahead of the deadline.
Promotion of Renewable Purchase Obligation: RPOs are policies that make it mandatory for large energy consumers utilize a certain percentage of their energy from renewable sources.
FDI Policy: FDI up to 100% is allowed in the renewable energy sector under the Automatic route and no prior Government approval is needed.
A new Hydropower policy for 2018-28 has been drafted for the growth of hydro projects in the country.
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has decided to give custom and excise duty benefits to the solar rooftop sector, which in result will reduce the cost of setting up as well as generate power, thus increasing growth.
The Indian Railways is taking increased efforts via sustained energy efficient measures and high use of clean fuel to reduce emission levels by 33 per cent by 2030.
Pradhan Mantri- Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan: PM- KUSUM aims at providing financial and water security to farmers by means of utilizing solar energy capacities of 25,750 MW by 2022.
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy on its website also provides Akshay Urja Portal and India Renewable Idea Exchange (IRIX) Portal. IRIX is a platform that enabled the exchange of ideas among energy-conscious Indians as well as the global community.
The government target of installing 20 GW of solar power by 2022 but it was achieved four years ahead of schedule in January 2018, through both solar parks as well as roof-top solar panels.India then set a new target of achieving 100 GW of solar power, 60GW of wind power, 10GW of bio mass and 5GW of small hydro power by 2022.
Three of the top Five largest solar parks worldwide are in India including the second-largest solar park in the world at Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, with a capacity of 1000 MW.
The world's largest solar power plant,Bhadla Solar Park is in Rajasthan with a capacity of 2255 MW.
The 2022 electrical power targets include achieving 227GW (earlier 175 GW) of energy from renewable sources - nearly 113 GW through solar power, 66 GW from wind power, 10 GW from biomass power, 5GW from small hydro and 31GW from floating solar and offshore wind power.
The bidding process for the further additional 115 GW or thereabouts to meet these targets of installed capacity from January 2018 levels will be completed by the end of 2019–2020.
The government has announced that no new coal-based capacity addition is required beyond the 50 GW under different stages of construction likely to come online between 2017 and 2022.
With the expansion of renewable power generation capacity, the outstanding payment dues from the power purchasers are also increasing due to their weak purchasing capacity.
Unlike most countries, until 2019 India did not count large hydro power towards renewable energy targets as hydropower was under the older Ministry of Power instead of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. This system was changed in 2019 and the power from large hydropower plants is since also accounted for.
This was done to help the sale of the power from the large Hydropower plants, as this reclassification has made such plants able to sell their power under the Renewable Energy Purchase Obligation.
Under the Renewable Energy Purchase Obligation, the DISCOMs (Distribution Company) of the various states have to source a certain percentage of their power from Renewable Energy Sources under two categories Solar and Non-Solar.
The power from the large Hydropower plants now classifies under the Non-Solar Renewable Energy Category.
The development of wind power in India began in the 1990s, and has significantly increased in the last few years. Although a relative newcomer to the wind industry compared with Denmark or the US, domestic policy support for wind power has led India to become the country with the fourth largest installed wind power capacity in the world.
As of 30 June 2018 the installed capacity of wind power in India was 34,293 MW mainly spread across Tamil Nadu (7,269.50 MW), Maharashtra (4,100.40 MW), Gujarat (3,454.30 MW), Rajasthan (2,784.90 MW), Karnataka (2,318.20 MW), Andhra Pradesh (746.20 MW) and Madhya Pradesh (423.40 MW)
Wind power accounts for 10% 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.
The Indian Government's Ministry of New and Renewable Energy announced a new wind-solar hybrid policy in May 2018. This means that the same piece of land will be used to house both wind farms and solar panels.
1. Off-grid Renewable Energy for rural applications
2. Grid interaction and grid parity to be achieved.
3. National Bioenergy Mission(NBM) · Successful model in Bihar: Off grid renewable models based on biomass. · Attract investment to make the mission sustainable.
4. National Biomass Cook Stove programme(NBCSP) Leveraging PPP in exploring a range of technology deployments, biomass processing, and delivery models.
5. National Bioenergy Corp of India It should be established to implement NBM and NBCSP.
6. Renewable Energy Development Fund To address financing constraints for grid connected as well as the off-grid applications of renewable, REDF should be set aside.
Why Renewable Energy
Sustainable: Energy generated from renewable sources will be cleaner and greener and more sustainable.
Employment opportunities: Inclusion of a newer technology simply means more employment opportunities for the working population of the country.
Market assurance: From the economy point of view, renewable sources provide the market and revenue assurance which no other resources can provide.
Power supply: Providing 24*7 power supply to 100% of the households, sustainable form of transports are some of the goals that can only be achieved through sustainable power that comes from renewables.
Recent Initiatives Taken
PLI Scheme: The Production Linked Incentive Scheme (PLI) scheme is an excellent initiative of the Government of India with respect to enhancing the manufacturing sector. The scheme proposes a financial incentive to boost domestic manufacturing and attract large investments in the electronics value chain including electronic components and semiconductor packaging.
Pradhan Mantri- Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan: PM- KUSUM aims to provide financial and water security to farmers through harnessing solar energy capacities of 25,750 MW by 2022. Solarisation of water pumps is a step in distributed power providing at the doorstep of the consumer.
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy on its website also hosts Akshay Urja Portal and India Renewable Idea Exchange (IRIX) Portal. IRIX is a platform that promotes the exchange of ideas among energy conscious Indians and the Global community.
India’s Key Focus for Next Five Years
The Twin Challenge: India has a twin challenge of providing more energy as well as cleaner energy to the masses in India.
It should focus on getting into the manufacturing of the solar panels under the Atma Nirbhar Bharat initiative as the demand is to create jobs as well as supply decentralised energy to all the households in India.
Look and develop the entire supply chain of all the components beside the manufacturing sector.
Methanol and Biomass: Looking for other alternatives such as methanol based economy and biomass. Bio-CNG vehicles with 20% blending in petrol is also a target the government has been chasing. Conversion of energy from Biomass is a considerable option as it will clean the cities as well as reduce our energy dependence. Fuels produced from biomass have a high calorific value and are cleaner than traditional biomass.
Hydrogen based FCV: Hydrogen in technology is likely to change the landscape of renewables, shifting towards Hydrogen Based Fuel Cells Vehicles (FCV) is another area of focus.
Grid Integration: It is the practice of developing efficient ways to deliver variable renewable energy (RE) to the grid. Identifying the demands which are in tune with the characteristics of the renewables, focussing on characteristics of renewables mainly solar and wind and considering their variability as strength rather than weakness.
Challenges with Renewable Energy
Integration with the Main Grid: Integrating the renewables with the main grid is the area India needs to work upon. To accelerate the uptake of renewables, storage and battery solutions is needed in large quantities.
Cost factor: Renewable resources are slightly more expensive than conventional sources.
24*7 Power Supply: Sustainable, round-the-clock power supply along with the storage system is a big challenge ahead.
Agricultural Sector: Much power is consumed in the agricultural sector. The challenge is to provide sufficient power and energy to every household and to the agricultural sector as well.
Identification of areas: Renewable resources specially wind cannot be set up everywhere, they require specific location. Identification of these specific locations, integrating them with the main grid and distribution of powers; A combination of these three is what will take India forward.
Exploration: More storage solutions need to be explored.
Agriculture subsidy: Agricultural subsidy should be rectified in order to ensure that only the required amount of energy is consumed.
Hydrogen fuel cell based vehicles and Electric vehicles: These are the most suitable options when it comes to shifting towards renewable sources of energy, that’s where we need to work upon.
Diversified energy mix is what India needs to focus on, no doubt solar and wind have a lot of potential, Hydrogen would be a game changer in Indian energy transition space. A well planned road map is needed, for which NITI Aayog is coming up with Energy Vision 2035 to achieve India's clean energy goals. Renewable sources of energy are expected to replace fossil fuels by 2050. India should be working on areas like investment in infrastructure, capacity building and better integration in the near and immediate future.