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Home » Industry Analysis » India Leads Energy Transition Amid COP and Net-Zero Aspirations

India Leads Energy Transition Amid COP and Net-Zero Aspirations

August 25, 2023 11:29 am

India Leads Energy Transition Amid COP and Net-Zero Aspirations
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Despite global energy transitions and climate urgency, India’s solar business is thriving. India emerges as a pioneer, driven by renewable objectives and net-zero aspirations, and bolstered by government policies and technical breakthroughs. The problems of integration and competitive tariffs are tackled with awareness and inventiveness. Collaborative initiatives expand solar knowledge for climate mitigation internationally.

India’s remarkable achievement of a 70.01 GW installed solar energy capacity positions it as a frontrunner in renewable energy globally. With a total renewable capacity of 168.96 GW, India’s trajectory aligns with ambitious goals of net-zero emissions by 2070 and 500 GW of non-fossil fuel energy by 2030. Dr. Chetan Solanki emphasises climate change awareness, while Shirish S. Garud highlights India’s industry prowess and global collaborations, underscoring the nation’s emergence as a leader in clean energy innovation. Vinay Thadani, the Director of Grew Energy Pvt. Ltd., highlights that the nation’s overall renewable energy capacity reached a significant milestone of 168.96 GW by February 2023. This substantial growth is in alignment with India’s ambitious objectives, which include achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2070 and attaining a non-fossil fuel energy generation capacity of 500 GW by 2030.

Ranked as the world’s third-largest consumer of renewable energy and the fourth-largest for solar PV modules, India is not only meeting its domestic energy requirements but also strengthening its potential for considerable international exports. Dr. Chetan Solanki, an energy scientist from IIT Bombay, underscores the unparalleled nature of India’s rapid advancement in solar energy. The Prime Minister’s vision of reaching 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030 continues to be a pivotal driving force behind this remarkable progress.

Shirish S. Garud, a consultant at the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), elucidates India’s extraordinary journey. Despite beginning with a modest installed capacity of 3.77 MW in 2014 against a target of 20 GW set in 2010, the nation remarkably achieved an impressive 63 GW by 2022. This achievement can be largely attributed to the visionary approach of the government and the collaborative efforts of industry players, financial institutions, and power stakeholders. The establishment of indigenous solar manufacturing, incentive schemes, and a clear target of 280 GW by 2030 provide a definitive industry direction and policy stability.

Brajesh Kumar, Senior Vice President of Power Distribution at Apraava Energy, underscores the substantial potential for growth in India’s electricity consumption, given the rapid expansion of its industries and manufacturing activities. While the United States boasts a mature market, India’s energy demand is only a third of that of developed economies, leaving ample room for further expansion. The nation’s robust supply chain and local support are commendable, despite the existing reliance on China, which mirrors a global trend. Collectively, these factors are poised to propel India to the forefront of the global renewable energy race.

Solar Parks: Transformative Force for India’s Clean Energy Goals.

The discourse on India’s solar park momentum is characterised by diverse viewpoints about their role in realising the nation’s clean energy ambitions. Thadani highlights a striking statistic: a significant 86 percent of India’s solar installations consist of large-scale setups. Within the impressive 70 GW installed capacity, 56 GW can be attributed to utility-scale installations, while rooftops contribute 14 GW. Solar parks have played a pivotal role across states like Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana, driving large-scale projects.

Dr. Solanki adds an intriguing perspective. While acknowledging positive solar sector growth, he underscores the oversight of distributed generation’s advantages. He believes true transformation lies not in centralised solar parks but in distributed production.

Garud delves into the Solar Park scheme’s evolution. Initiated in 2014 with a 20 GW target, it set a 500 MW and above capacity benchmark. In 2017, an ambitious 40 GW target for 2023–24 was set, with enticing incentives. However, he raises feasibility concerns, given strains on land, especially in agrarian states. Garud suggests the scheme might not be universally game-changing but holds potential for regions like Rajasthan, Ladakh, and parts of Gujarat with expansive, sparsely populated desert lands. He proposes exploring smaller 10 to 100 MW solar projects on barren lands for a sustainable approach, advocating adaptability over one-size-fits-all.

Rooftop solar and floating solar contributing well in integrating surplus energy to the grid

The undeniable prominence of rooftop and floating solar installations in industrial and residential sectors is shaping the renewable energy landscape. Integrating surplus energy from these sources seamlessly into the grid is a key focus, aimed at enhancing grid stability, optimising energy usage, and fostering renewable energy adoption.

Government-led initiatives play a pivotal role in achieving this integration. Leveraging tools like the net-metering scheme, feed-in tariffs, time-of-use tariffs, and energy storage system development, they work to pave the way. Thadani of Grew Energy advocates embracing smart grid technology and streamlining processes through a single-window facility for rooftop solar projects. These actions can simplify regulatory complexities, ensuring smoother connectivity, net metering, electricity inspection, and load management.

These strategies carry immense potential, enhancing the performance of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), thereby contributing to nationwide economic growth and job creation. Dr. Solanki underscores the importance of strategies such as boosting grid capacity, optimising demand and supply management, and encouraging electricity consumption during peak generation periods for effective surplus solar energy integration.

In contrast, Garud envisions a pivotal role for rooftop and floating solar systems in the near future. He suggests harnessing artificial lakes in industries for floating solar setups, integrating them with existing substation infrastructure. He highlights the necessity for suitable tariff structures and power storage mechanisms, making surplus solar power utilisation and supply feasible and advantageous.

Solar Energy_EPR Magazine

Competitive Tariffs: Challenges and Opportunities for Sustainable Solar Growth.

Achieving competitive tariffs for sustainable solar growth in India brings both challenges and opportunities to the forefront. Thadani highlights hurdles such as land acquisition, financing, infrastructure, grid integration, varying state policies, and technical complexities that must be tackled. Despite these challenges, he’s optimistic that government policies, schemes, and collective efforts can overcome them. He stresses domestic manufacturing’s role in sustainable growth and the need for support in innovation, research, development, and foreign direct investment (FDI).

Dr. Solanki takes a broader view, asserting that while competitive tariffs are vital, heightened awareness about climate change’s impacts should be the driving force for solar growth. He calls for policymakers and professionals to be attuned to these concerns.

Garud highlights challenges in technology availability and pricing, advocating for cost-effective storage technologies and suitable tariff structures. He acknowledges India’s exploration of market mechanisms and tariff models, like renewable purchase obligations (RPO) linked to storage. Yet he stresses the necessity for consistent state regulatory support and views these mechanisms as long-term solutions.

In navigating these complexities, the convergence of policy, awareness, technology, and sustained support is paramount for India’s solar growth journey.

Driving India’s Solar Sector amidst Global Energy Shifts and Climate Urgency.

India’s steadfast commitment to renewable energy objectives and net-zero goals stands as a pivotal force driving industry expansion. Governmental support in the form of initiatives, policies, and schemes, combined with technological strides and increasing public awareness, collectively thrust India’s solar energy sector into prominence within the evolving global energy landscape and climate urgency.

Dr. Solanki underscores the crucial understanding of climate change’s gravity and its widespread ramifications for societies and economies. While the transition to solar energy remains paramount, Solanki emphasises the importance of a deliberate approach, advocating the reduction of energy consumption and promotion of energy efficiency before resorting to solar energy generation. He highlights the common misconception of solar generation as the starting point.

Garud lauds India’s robust solar energy resources, technological production, installation capabilities, and diverse commercial applications. He accentuates India’s all-encompassing ecosystem development, stringent quality standards, and adeptness in both large-scale utility systems and distributed generation setups. 

This positions India as a torchbearer in the global energy transition. Collaborative initiatives involving the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), and the International Solar Alliance (ISA) strive to extend India’s solar expertise to developing nations, forging essential global alliances. Garud firmly believes that India possesses the requisite skills, industrial prowess, and experience to lead the charge in combating climate change through solar energy innovation.

Spokesperson & Quotes

Government support and innovation drive India’s solar growth towards net-zero ambitions.” – Vinay Thadani, Director, Grew Energy Pvt. Ltd.

Prioritise energy efficiency before solar generation; climate awareness is paramount for sustainable transition.” – Dr. Chetan Solanki, Energy Scientist, IIT Bombay

“India’s solar expertise and global partnerships make it a climate leader in renewable energy.Shirish S Garud, Consultant, The Energy & Resource Institute (TERI).

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