In 2015, India took the lead in the global initiative for energy transition by setting an ambitious target of 175 GW of Renewable Energy (RE) capacity to be achieved by 2022. However, as on 30th April 2020, at 87.27 GW of installed RE capacity, we have reached just about 50% of the target. While the progress so far is commendable, a lot more needs to be done. To add to this, the COVID19 induced lockdown in many countries has caused severe disruption in the RE supply chain. There are various issues plaguing the growth in RE sector such as heavy reliance on Chinese imports, the delay in payments to RE developers and opening up of alternate investment avenues as against RE assets. Addressing these issues is a key to achieve our target. We should use this critical period in time to bring in positive reforms and carry out structural changes to build a strong and sustained RE future. To quote Albert Einstein, “in the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity”.
Below are some strategic steps that could help us in a sustained energy transition and realise our RE target:
Firstly, creation of a robust power infrastructure is critical. This could be done through financial stimulus and technology initiatives. A recent example in this direction is the launch of the Real time Market on 3rd June 2020 for trading electricity closer to real time of operation which would help in integrating a larger quantum of RE resources into the grid. Other infrastructure related initiatives could include promoting and supporting solar cell and other hardware manufacturing units, modernising the power grids, incentivising R&D activities, etc
Secondly, providing tax incentives or holidays and other perks to RE investors. The major investments by domestic investors and global funds are in the large scale RE project. These Utility scale RE projects have discovered record low tariffs and are crucial in our planned energy transition.
Thirdly, India should transfer some of the massive subsidies currently given to fossil fuels to renewable energy. RE subsidy in 2019 was about 12% of the subsidies given to Coal and Oil. As the UN says, the pandemic induced lockdown provides “opportunity for nations to green their recovery packages” and move towards a cleaner future.
Fourthly, training and upskilling the youth to meet the demands of a growing RE sector is a must. Expanding the MNRE’s Suryamitra training programme and providing certification through empanelled institutions would play a critical role. Oorjan’s Greenstitute initiative is a similar step towards enabling youth and enthusiasts with basic as well as advanced knowledge about Solar.
Finally, for a more organic growth of the renewable sector, the RE targets should be enforced through State Governments. This would find more acceptance and it would be easier to address local and political concerns.
All these steps are crucial and when coupled with other macro reforms like those for banking credit and supporting MSMEs would enable India to build a resilient RE future.
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