Will India meet the 175-gigawatt renewable energy target that the government has set?
Not if the sector continues to be plagued by policy inconsistency, discom problems and other issues, says the CSE analysis
New Delhi, January 21, 2019: India issurging ahead in the area of renewable energy. Renewable capacity has reached 73 gigawatt (GW), which is 20 per cent of the country’s total energy capacity. Generation has increased, and solar energy has made tremendous strides. But does this mean the country is well on its way to meet its ambitious 175-GW renewable capacity target by 2022?
No if the policy gaps are not filled soon, says a new analysis released here today by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). The State of Renewable Energy in India 2019 report follows another similar analysis done by CSE in 2014, and according to CSE deputy director general Chandra Bhushan, “takes a close look at where we stand now, what are the strengths of and the challenges facing the sector, and whether the sector can overcome these obstacles and emerge as a viable alternative to conventional energy sources”.
The new report was released here at a two-day National Conference on renewable energy organised here by CSE, and attended by some of the key stakeholders of the sector – regulators and policymakers, industry representatives and sector experts (Visit www.cseindia.org for the detailed agenda and conference presentations. The conference is also being livestreamed at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIB_MLJZLOT_s5OUuqhmbVA).
Opening the Conference, SunitaNarain, director general, CSE, said: “We believe that India needs a renewable energy policy that both de-carbonise the economy and provide access to large numbers of people who are energy-deprived.”
What state is the sector in?
Some favourable policies, combined with good market conditions, has seen the renewable energy sector emerge as a sunshine industry. Solar, in fact, has made considerable progress. Over the last four years, large-scale solar has seen an average annual growth rate of over 70 per cent. The installed solar capacity has increased from 2.6 GW in March 2014 to 23.1 GW in June 2018 – large-scale solar comprises over 94 per cent of this. At under Rs 3 per unit on an average, wind and solar energy is now cheaper than coal power.
However, 2018 witnessed a slowdown triggered by financial difficulties being faced by distribution companies, import tariffs, and subsequent tariff increases. The CSE report lays bare some of the key concerns the sector faces today:
Therefore, what does the report recommend?
Addressing the Conference, Bhushan said: “We stand at the cusp of a momentous shift in the energy sector. For the first time, decarbonised electricity appears feasible in the foreseeable future; it is not an abstract vision. The question is, whether India will reach peak coal and 100 per cent renewable quickly and efficiently, or whether it will be a delayed process, merely egged on by global momentum.”
The CSE report puts forth a few key recommendations:
(For details, please get a copy of the report from http://csestore.cse.org.in/)
Narain’s words emphasised what the nation and its policymakers should be aiming for. “Renewable energy has to be the moral and economic imperative for a cleaner and more inclusive world. Anything less is selling us short. Anything else must be unacceptable.”
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