India has ambitions to be a global leader in renewable energy

The energy transition is definitely underway on a global scale. Ashwani Kumar writes on the Khaleej Times website that India plans to ramp up production of renewable energy sources on a large scale. Importantly, the energy minister says India is “focused on energy efficiency and conservation in a big way.” That is music to our ears.


India seeks to be global hub of renewable energy

India is working to emerge as the world’s renewable energy capital and has ambitious plans to ramp up production, an Indian minister told Khaleej Times in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

But can India meet energy needs keeping its climate commitments in mind? India remains dependent on coal but Minister of State with Independent Charge for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy and Mines Piyush Goyal said the country is “committed to meet nationally determined contributions – our climate goals.”

“Our performance last year was aligned with our goals. We are focused on energy efficiency and conservation in a big way. We have an Ujala scheme where LED bulbs are replacing old incandescent bulbs. That project will save $6.5 billion in electricity bills for consumers by 2019, reduce peak load demand by 22,000MW and reduce annual CO2 emissions by 80 million tonnes.

“Similarly, we are going for large-scale renewable deployment. When the Narendra Modi government came to power, India’s solar power was 2.4GW and after two-and-a-half-years, it’s 9.6GW. This is four times growth in only two-and-a-half-years. By 2022, our target is 100GW. This will be the world’s largest ramp-up; there is no other plan comparable to this. Last year, we issued bids for 20GW of solar power projects. We are on track to become the world’s renewable energy capital,” he said.

Referring to wind energy, Goyal said: “We have about 28GW, which we are planning to scale up to 60GW. We have about 40GW of hydro power that is not even considered as renewable in India. Now, we are thinking of classifying it as a renewable source of energy so that India will have 225GW of clean energy by 2022.”

Work is on to achieve these objectives. “We are doing a lot of work on grid integration so that the grid can handle the amount of renewable energy that comes online.”

Energy demand to quadruple

“India has huge demand for energy. It is the fulcrum of economic development. I anticipate India’s demand for energy to quadruple in the next 15 to 17 years. There is no other country whose demand is going to grow at this speed. India’s large size and the fact that people are aspiring for a better quality of life means energy demand is going to increase manifold.”

The minister said this sizeable demand for energy presented a $1 trillion business opportunity in the next decade. He said this would create investment opportunities worth over $250 billion in the next five years alone.

“The Indian government is conscious about providing a regulatory framework which is stable, predictable, simple and cost-effective. This will help people benefit from energy access, which is affordable yet sustainable. Investors can also get a fair return, with the security of their investments guaranteed.”

The Indian minister had a meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Khalid Al Falih.

“Saudi Arabia and India have very close ties. Millions of Indians come to Saudi Arabia every year. Even in the areas of energy cooperation, the potential is tremendous, particularly because Saudi Arabia is looking to adopt renewable energy, look at energy conservation and efficiency.

“We had good discussions spanning a wide range of energy-related subjects. We also discussed Saudi Arabia joining the International Solar Alliance. After today’s meeting, I am confident that we will be able to expand our energy cooperation manifold.”

Goyal invited the Saudi minister to visit India. Before that, a Saudi team of officials will initially pay a visit and learn the experience of large-scale ramp-up of renewable energy, particularly solar energy; large-scale integration of the grid and rollout of LED bulbs to conserve energy.

On how Al Falih preferred a mix of both renewables and conventional forms of fuel, the minister said: “Everything has a role. Gas has a future as it’s an intermediate between oil and clean energy. Gas acts like a spinning reserve to provide 24X7 power. You need these plants which can ramp up and down quickly. Every element has a role but if every country is able to adopt clean energy, it will help the world.”

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