Renewable energy is energy derived from natural sources or renewable resources that are naturally replenished such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat. Considering the depletion of fossil fuels and the carbon emissions released, renewable energy is gaining momentum and will be the future of the energy industry.

This green revolution will definitely reduce the carbon footprint considerably and create a greener and sustainable planet for us as well as the generations to come.

The Government of India has been encouraging its MAKE IN INDIA campaign from the time the Modi Government took over. Of late, it has also initiated its Aatmanirbhar Bharat Campaign with the vision of making India a self-reliant nation. Aatmanirbhar Bharat does not mean cutting India off from the rest of the world. It refers to India becoming a bigger part of the global economy.

In its endeavour to promote the growth of renewable energy manufacturing in India, a ‘Self-reliant India’ conclave was held on the 16th of June 2020 by CII. In this unique event, policymakers and stakeholders from the Government and Industry, from across the world came together to deliberate on opportunities in renewable energy manufacturing with a focus on climate change and affordable and clean energy which is the future of energy. India’s clean power revolution is bound to make India the number one emerging market for investments in renewable energy.

Thanks to the proactive response of the Government in handling the COVID -19 pandemic, we have demonstrated that India has the ability and capability to bounce back.

Asia’s largest solar power plant of 750 MW in Rewa, Madhya Pradesh was inaugurated lately by our Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narender Modi. In his speech, he commented that solar power projects represent Aatmanirbhar Bharat and India has made exemplary progress in this field. Under his leadership India has set an ambitious renewable energy target of 175 GW by 2022 and 450 GW by 2030. As of today, we have an installed capacity of 35 GW of renewable power which represents 10% of the total installed capacity.  By 2030, renewables are forecasted to constitute 50% of the total installed capacity. He is very confident that India will lead the world and will serve as a model for the transitioning economies globally.

India’s power demand is expected to double in the next 12 years. The demand will increase as electricity is now accessible to every village even in rural India and over the years, this will create a huge impact on rural demand.

Moreover, the per capita consumption of power in India is at around 1250 KWh whereas the global average is more than 3000 KWh. With a growing demand of air-conditioning and electrical appliances, power demand is forecasted to be on a rise.

Affordable & Clean Energy is the only long-term sustainable solution to our country’s energy needs.  As we accelerate this transition, we could achieve many objectives:

1)This would increase the momentum towards the nation’s strategy of Self-reliant India as we position ourselves as a global manufacturing hub. Since the entire world is looking for alternate supply chains, this indeed is a golden opportunity for India.

2) This transition will lead us into a lower carbon future which will help us protect the environment.  This by itself is a huge step forward towards reducing Co2 emissions to meet the challenges of global warming. The lockdown has paved the way towards a decarbonised world where we have experienced the merits of clean air.

3) India would achieve the objective of energy security as our dependency on import of fossil fuels would reduce to negligible levels.  Moreover, the falling cost of renewables anyway does not support investment in thermal power plants.

4) Investing in renewable energy creates more employment opportunities than investing in fossil fuels. Renewable energy creates 75 jobs (directly and indirectly) with every 75 crores of investment, as against just 27 jobs with equivalent investment in fossil fuels.

5)  Lastly and most importantly, clean energy contributes in building climate resilient infrastructure which helps us mitigate the possible risk of future health crises.

India has witnessed significant government policy reforms to give this sector a boost.  We need more reforms particularly in the area of land acquisition which is generally a time-consuming process. We would need investments to build not only power plants, but also to modernise grid infrastructure. We will need to take strategic steps to improve the financial health of distribution companies.

Today India is already amongst the top 5 clean energy producers globally.  India is indeed a favoured investment destination.  Last week, I came across an article which questioned whether India was the New China. The takeaway from the article was clear and it was that India needs to be understood on its own terms.  India is undoubtedly the only country with the scale to match China.

For investors, India is one of the largest population markets that is waiting to be truly discovered.  We should be a dominant player in providing EPC as well as O&M services to the entire world. Over the years India has also been able to develop a mature base of manufacturing in the wind energy sector.  We have a well-established supply chain, skilled manpower and relatively lower costs which has attracted investments from across the world.  The annual manufacturing capacity is almost 3 times the domestic demand thus, making India an export hub for the wind sector.

In the solar power sector India still relies on imports.  Policy interventions have been made by the Government to support manufacturing in India and there are tenders which have domestic content requirement.

Likewise, the Government is intending to discourage imports by having a conducive duty structure.  There are huge opportunities to manufacture solar modules, solar cells and various other components which are required by the solar energy sector.

It may also be noted that renewable energy needs to be associated with energy storage systems to ensure round the clock power from renewables.  As of now, battery is the only solution for storage and as a matter of fact, prices of Lithium-ion batteries have fallen by more than 85% over the past ten years.  By 2024 it is expected to fall below 100 dollars per KWh.   However, our dependency would remain on Lithium-ion for which we do not have reserves in India.

We need to innovate and accelerate the usage of hydrogen for storage as a long-term solution where we would not be dependent on import of either batteries or Lithium-ion battery as its raw material. This would make India truly self-reliant. I believe that the Government should take the lead in this pilot project with hydrogen as a storage solution.

While renewables are a great opportunity, it is also a big responsibility for which we need to work closely together keeping the goal of the country in mind.  I would like to conclude by stating:

  • “Aim Big to Achieve Big” should be our motto and one must find opportunities in these challenges.
  • India is poised to be a preferred investment destination in the field of renewable energy.
  • India is committed to be a role model to the world in the renewable energy sector.
  • Government and policy makers are committed to ensure that investment made in India is secure by supporting it with conducive and consistent policies.
  • Industry is keen to make investments in manufacturing of renewable energy components in India with an eye on export markets.
  • Industry is committed to leverage technology to manufacture high quality products at competitive prices.
  • We need to be equally focused on the future and there is a need to focus on innovation to bring disruptions, particularly in the area of energy storage which will help us quickly adopt and switch to clean energy.