Clean Energy

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    In News

    • Recently, the Power Minister at the Sydney Energy Forum in Australia said that India has achieved clean energy targets nine years ahead of schedule.

    About the Sydney Energy Forum

    • Participation: Ministers from the United States, Japan, India, Indonesia, and the Pacific Island nation of Samoa are attending the forum along with leaders of major companies that are committed to low emissions technologies.
    • Aim: To foster connections between investors, business and government with a focus on innovations in key clean energy technologies such as solar, hydrogen, critical minerals and batteries.
    • India’s achievements Highlighted:
      • India achieved its nationally determined contribution (NDC) commitment of 40 per cent non-fossil-based installed power capacity nine years ahead of the target year.
        • In 2015, India committed to ensuring that 40% of its energy would be from renewable sources by 2030 as part of its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC).
      • The country is now heading towards achieving 500 GW energy from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030.
      • India has installed 162 GW of renewable energy capacity which is 41% of the 402 GW of electricity installed.
        • 1 GW is 1000 MW.
      • India is set to add 27,000 circuit kilometres of inter-state power transmission networks by 2024, as it has already added 6,500 circuit kilometres lines so far.
        • The power transmission network expansion has been planned, keeping in mind the goal of having 500 GW of non-fossil fuel-based electricity generation capacity in the county.
      • In 2015: India committed to ensuring that 40% of its energy would be from renewable sources by 2030 as part of its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC).

    Issues in the Renewable Energy Sector

    • The energy crisis that has gripped the world has been in the making and is not only due to the Russia-Ukraine war but because of the cartelisation in the fossil fuel industry.
    • Finance and investment: Gearing up the banking sector for arranging finances for larger deployment goals, exploring low-interest rates, long-term international funding, and developing a suitable mechanism for risk mitigation or sharing by addressing both technical and financial bottlenecks are major challenges. 
    • Land acquisition: It is one of the major challenges in renewable power development. Identification of land with RE potential, its conversion (if needed), clearance from land ceiling act, the decision on land lease rent, clearance from revenue department, and other such clearances take time
    • Technological Barriers: Renewable energy technologies are still evolving in terms of technological maturity and cost competitiveness, and face numerous market related economic and social barriers.
    • Innovation & Seamless Supply: Creating an innovation and manufacturing eco-system in the country; enabling the supply of firm and dispatchable power from renewables etc. are issues that need urgent attention.
    • Integration to grids: To economically integrate a larger share of renewables with the grid is a tough task.
    • Penetration in other sectors: Enabling penetration of renewables in the so-called hard to decarbonize sectors is going to be difficult.
    • Impact of Covid-19: The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown up tough challenges. The pace of renewable energy projects development and commissioning has been adversely impacted. 

    Alternatives sources of energy

    • Solar and Wind energy have hogged the limelight in the context of renewable energy. However, it is important to consider other alternatives like biomass energy, methanol-based blending and hydrogen, which is considered as the fuel of the future.
    • Biomass energy: India has one of the largest cattle populations and animal rearing sector in the world. This translates into adequate availability of biomass to fulfil the energy requirements, especially in rural areas.
      • High calorific value: Apart from that, biomass has a high calorific value, i.e. it produces more energy per unit fuel consumed than the other conventional sources of energy
      • Reliable source of power: Biomass energy is available on-demand i.e. there is no need to create a huge storage infrastructure for biomass energy.
    • Waste to energy projects: A large population, along with increasing urbanisation, means production of a large quantity of solid wastes, which can be utilised in the waste-to-energy projects.
      • Twin benefits: Waste to energy projects will not only help in cleaning the cities, but also in energy generation.
      • Waste Segregation: However, it will need inculcation of a culture of waste segregation, for effective production of energy.
    • Hydrogen as a fuel: The challenge in using Hydrogen is its explosive nature. Therefore, research on its viability as a source of energy is underway in multiple global projects.
      • However, hydrogen is already touted as the fuel of the future because of its high energy potential.
      • Also, the by-product in the production of energy from hydrogen is water, which is harmless. Therefore, it has the added advantage of being a clean source of energy.

    Major Programmes in Renewable Energy Sector 

    • National Solar Mission (NSM): 
      • In January 2010, the NSM was launched with the objective of establishing India as a global leader in solar energy, by creating the policy conditions for solar technology diffusion across the country.
      • The initial target of NSM was to install 20 GW solar power by 2022. This was upscaled to 100 GW in early 2015. 
    • Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM): 
      •  It was launched in 2019 and it aims to help farmers access reliable day-time solar power for irrigation, reduce power subsidies, and decarbonise agriculture. 
      • PM-KUSUM provides farmers with incentives to install solar power pumps and plants in their fields. 
    • Atal Jyoti Yojana (AJAY) Phase-II:
      • A Scheme for the installation of solar street lights with 25% fund contribution from MPLAD Funds was discontinued from 1 April 2020 as the Government decided to suspend the MPLAD Funds for the next two years i.e. 2020-21 and 2021-22. 
      • However, the installation of 1.5 lakh solar street lights sanctioned under the scheme till March 2020 was under progress.
    • Solar Parks Scheme:
      • To facilitate large scale grid-connected solar power projects, a scheme is under implementation with a target capacity of 40 GW capacity by March 2022
      • Solar parks provide solar power developers with a plug and play model, by facilitating necessary infrastructure like land, power evacuation facilities, road connectivity, water facility etc. along with all statutory clearances.
    • Green Energy Corridor (GEC):
      • To facilitate renewable power evacuation and reshaping the grid for future requirements.
    • International Solar Alliance (ISA):
      • The India-France joint initiative of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) with an aim to reduce carbon footprint.
      • It has 122 sun-belt countries as its prospective member countries and currently boasts a membership of 86 countries globally.
      • It is the largest grouping of states, after the United Nations
    • Other schemes: Various National Schemes like National Action Plan on Climate Change, National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), National Biofuel Policy, etc.

    Way Forward

    • Energy transition: Despite having among the lowest per capita emissions in the world, India has invested in energy transition because our traditions teach us to respect and care for our environment.
    • Renewable energy promised to break these cartels though it was possible that there would be newer such cartels forming in manufacturing and the equipment and the world would have to take steps to ensure that these don’t coalesce.
    • Focus on domestic manufacturing: There is a need to strengthen the steps to promote domestic manufacturing in the Renewable Energy sector (Atma Nirbhar Bharat Policy). Procurement and use of domestically manufactured solar PV cells and modules have to be mandated for all entities.
    • Risk Mitigation & Easing Approvals: The ongoing efforts for mitigating investment risks and easing approval processes need to be strengthened. The State governments have to play a major role in the acquisition of land for RE projects.
    • Overcoming from Covid-19 crisis: Due to Covid-19, the operation of renewable energy generation plants was declared as an essential service, and a policy for granting an extension of time for various renewable energy projects treating the lockdown as force majeure has been put in place.
    • Make RE an attractive option: With progressively declining costs, improved efficiency and reliability, renewable energy is now an attractive option for meeting the energy needs across different sectors of the economy. 

    Source: TH