Analysis on what will it take to make India renewable superpower.
Renewable energy sector in India has shown tremendous growth over the past 5 years. The country has a great potential to be one of the superpower in renewable space and is currently moving into that direction. From 2014 to 2015, India’s renewable energy installed capacity jumped by 12.9 per cent during the 12 months as on 31st March 2015. Now, the government has set an ambitious target of generating 175 GW power by 2022 from renewable sources, including 100 GW from solar, 60 GW from the wind, 10 GW from biomass and 5 GW from small hydroelectric projects. Here we will discuss how India can become a renewable super power. According to Anil Sardana, CEO and MD, Tata Power to make India as renewable superpower the implementation of RPO mechanism would help. He says, “We foresee the increase of renewable energy in the fuel mix in near future. However, a serious implementation of RPO mechanism would serve the objective well to develop these technologies as commercially viable alternatives. Given the limitation on the conventional sources of energy, a long-term view needs to be taken to ensure energy security through development of appropriate indigenous alternatives. A prudent and practical RPO mechanism would serve the objective well to develop these technologies as commercially viable alternatives.”
Renewable energy is expected to play a major role as off-grid solution. Distributed generation will cater to the power needs of areas where grid in inaccessible. Sardana adds, “Net metering policy will usher a new arena of smart infrastructure and cater to the demand side management. Renewable energy is the best available solution for by peak load shaving and thereby bringing efficiency in the system.”
Renewable energy is also going to play a big role in the coming years with the government announcing the target of ‘Power for All by 2019’. Sardana further suggests, “It would be important for government in centre and states as well as regulators to encourage distributed formats in solar and wind for rooftops, micro-grids, mini-grids on protected zonal concept, so that once investment is made by entrepreneurs’, they are not displaced by state-owned enterprises giving alternatives to customers, which hitherto were not connected. Predictable policies need to encourage mini and micro grids to provide electricity to all unconnected households and customers.”
On the other hand Peddiraju Bhupathiraju, Managing Director, Akshaya Solar Power India Pvt Ltd believes that solar rooftop segment is getting tremendous support from the government. He says, “Indian solar industry is getting remarkable support through government policies apart from MW projects. One should not underestimate the potential that solar industry is having in domestic and industrial roof top solar sectors and it is going to make a big difference in making India as a renewable superpower.”
Anurag Mishra, Head-Solar Business, EVI views that India is already on its way to be a renewable superpower. He said, “To sustain the growth in utility scale segment, realistic tariff, more than adequate plant quality and effective O&M are the key issues to be addressed. In rooftop segment, customer awareness/education will play an important role.”
A spokesperson from Waaree Energies Ltd has identified three main factors which can help make India a superpower in renewable energy:
Consistent policy enforcement
Availability of funds
Focus on manufacturing and technological innovation.
“Better access to funding opportunities can enable solar companies to invest in R&D, promote new technology and develop new products for the Indian market,” Waaree spokesperson adds.
Prashant Panda, President, ACME Solar also opines, “To develop 175 GW, India also needs to have a huge skilled manpower resources. As we know this is a new sector in India, therefore we need to come up with various skill development programs which will enable a smooth implementation to achieve such a massive feat.”
Ivan Saha, President and Chief Technical Officer, Vikram Solar observes that India spend millions on imports and to compete with the giants in the industry and to become a renewable superpower, India needs to empower its domestic manufacturers. He says, “India has spent $ 5 billion in solar panel imports in last five years. Spending on imports instead of developing an industrial ecosystem is slowing down India’s progress in becoming a solar superpower. Research shows that creating demand for domestic solar manufacturers can save India up to $ 42 billion by reducing the import expenses within 2030.”
Anurag Garg, Vice President, Solar Business, Schneider Electric India believes that the government’s initiatives towards foreign collaboration, in-depth research and development will help India to be a super renewable power. He says, “Signalling its steadfast commitment towards clean energy, the Union Government recently announced plans to double investments for clean energy research in the next 5 years from $72 million to $145 million. Alongside, it will also be launching a new research track on smart energy grids and energy storage under the India-US partnership to promote clean energy research.”
He adds, “All these initiatives to boost clean energy capacity are indeed commendable. If the government does meet its ambitious clean energy targets, it may only be a question of time before India emerges as the leading nation in the use of renewable energy.”
“Energy from natural resources is replenished at a faster rate than they are consumed. In this context, India has a great potential for renewable source. The challenge of moving gradually from a fossil based economy to non-fossil based is a long daunting journey. One has to also look at the demand side of energy system where we emphasise on energy efficiency and reduce transmission and distribution losses in the energy value chain. Looking at disruptive technologies like geothermal air-conditioning systems which will not only bring down energy requirements, but will make other renewable options commercially viable,” says Ramdas Shenoy, Director, Marketing, GIBSS.
“India can certainly become a superpower in renewable by 2022, given the progress made so far, as well as experience gained in technology, policy and regulatory regime, financing and man power capacity building, over almost 2 decades and the potential,” SC Natu, Sr. Vice President-Power Division, MITCON Consultancy & Engineering Services Ltd.
Being renewable energy rulerThough every segment is of equal importance it is striving to prove itself as a renewable energy leader. Which segment will drive the renewable energy growth in India is a big question.
Sharing his views Sardana of Tata Power says, “All segments of renewable energy holds equal opportunities and, as a company, we have a dedicated team that looks for opportunities in the renewable energy projects and clean technology development.”
Subir Pal, President, Discrete Automation and Motion, ABB India states, “All have potential to grow if ably supported by associated positive actions. There is ample scope of growth in each. We need to utilise and promote the optimal energy mix which addresses issues of energy security, energy equity and energy sustainability for the nation.”
Some experts have expressed that solar is expected to secure its place as renewable energy ruler as it is developing on a faster note. Hartek Singh, CMD, Hartek Power comments, “It is certainly solar power which will drive the renewable energy growth in the country in years to come. We foresee that rooftop solar will emerge as a game-changer when the focus shifts to this segment as installing rooftop projects on government and new residential buildings become mandatory across the country.”
However, he adds, “Coming to other sources of renewable energy, small hydel projects are a great idea, but you cannot expect them to generate abundant electricity to meet the ever-growing demand. Wind technology, on the other hand, has a long way to go before it can become sustainable. Though wind power has immense potential, it is erratic with variations in generation even during the daytime,” adds Singh.
Kunwer Sachdev, Founder and MD, Su-Kam also believes that hydel and wind are limitations due to which it cannot become renewable energy driver and on the contrary solar can take the lead. He says, “We have been trying to use wind and hydel for a long time now, but they have their limitations. Wind is mainly possible in coastal areas, and a lot of issues surround the building of dams to generate hydel power. In such a scenario, solar seems to be the key driving force behind the renewable energy growth in India.”
Kolan Saravanan, General Manager, Centrotherm Photovoltaics India Pvt Ltd states, “We need to have diverse sources. Hydel was the main stay about 4-5 decades ago. But it is not easy to envision large scale additions anymore now because of land submerging and downstream usage. Some mini hydel projects might evolve. Wind was the driver over the last 2-3 decades. Growth will come from advances in scale and tapping new sites. Solar will be the main growth driver going ahead. That is because of the small base it was operating from and the continuing decline in costs for solar power. It will be interesting to watch whether synergies can be developed between solar and other.”
Syed Sajjadh Ali, Managing Director – India, Electrical Sector, Eaton says, “Recent industry research has projected annual solar installations to grow over four times by 2017. Government of India has announced a target for renewable energy generation of 175 GW by 2022 and according to MNRE this target consists of 100 GW from solar power, 60 GW from wind, 10 GW from biomass and 5 GW from small hydro power. From these figures I do see solar and wind driving the growth of this segment in India.”
Arun Bhalla, Executive Director-Dalmia Bharat Ltd says, “The way solar tariff are falling it may soon take over wind in terms of installed capacity. Currently wind has the highest share close to 70 per cent share among all renewable power units installed in India, for the very reason that the tariff and cost were comparable to other sources of power whereas solar power was double or triple at that time.”
In solar with prices and capital cost coming down drastically, solar tariffs are now lower than wind in many states of India.
“The advantage that solar has compared to wind is that it meets the peaking requirements and is more predictable in terms of generation which makes it slightly more attractive vis-a vis wind. Therefore, at the same level of tariffs, an off taker prefer solar more than wind,” he adds.
The Indian government is expected to boost present 42 GW hydropower generation capacities to 65 GW by 2030. Hydroelectric power now accounts for only 15.3 per cent of electricity output. “However, North and North-East India is famously well endowed with mountains and rivers, with more than 145 GW of hydropower potential, and hydropower is likely to be encouraged as an important element of stable power supply,” says Tomohiko Okada, Managing Director, Toshiba India Pvt Ltd.
On explaining how hydel power can drive the renewable energy Okada says, “In the renewable energy sector through Hydropower, Toshiba can contribute to India’s energy demand by delivering both small and large hydropower generating systems. Apart from conventional machineries and in order to utilise limited water resource efficiently, Toshiba is introducing adjustable speed pumped storage system technology that allows changes in the rotating speed of the hydro turbine.”
However, Neelav Samrat De, Assistant General Manager-Marketing, ANDRITZ India Pvt Ltd observes, “Solar power cannot be the solution to meet capacity addition targets in the country. Moreover, wind and solar have a limitation being dependant on their respective sources of power like wind and sunlight availability which makes their operating PLF low. Hydel sources including the mini, micro and compact sized projects seem to be the best bet to drive the renewable energy growth in our country.”
According to Natu, biomass can lead the renewable growth in the country as it more economically viable and give environmental benefit. On this note he say, “The focus must get shifted from solar and wind to biomass ( agri waste) and bagasse cogen power projects at sugar factories, which have the highest plant load factor ( over 80 per cent) compared to any other renewable source. The comparatively low CAPEX and highest injection in the grid on kWh basis from these projects, proves more economically viable than the other sources of renewable. These projects have substantial socio-economic – environmental benefits to the rural populace and are truly win-win type projects to all the stakeholders.”