Give an account of the growth and development of renewable energy in India. Is India doing enough on the Renewable energy front? (250 W/ 15 M)

Mentor’s comment:

This is a pretty straightforward question. But it will require decent amount of data to score well. Also, the second part is slightly tricky as some candidates might understand it to mean the ‘overall’ environment policy. It is only asking whether India should be doing more on the renewable energy (RE) front to combat climate change.

In case of ‘fact-intensive’ questions, it is generally advisable to begin with the latest trends. Just the trends, not the details (which will come later). Then, talk briefly about the entire renewable energy portfolio of India. Talk about the growth rates and installed capacity (post independence) of the various RE sources. Then give some facts about the situation today (installed capacity, growth rates).

Finally, talk about the Paris Deal, India’s NDCs and follow up action. Assess whether the effort on RE front is sufficient.

Conclude the answer citing India’s developmental needs, CBDR and need for global support in the fight against climate change.

Model Answer

India’s Renewable Energy (RE) basket

Due to the alarming effects of climate change India has pledged to decrease carbon emissions for which the country is focusing on renewable energy solutions.

  • India has been engaged in creating renewable energy alternatives for decades now and is targeting to produce 40% of electricity through wind and solar
  • India has 4th Largest wind power capacity in the world.
  • It also have 6th largest solar power capacity in the world.
  • India has World’s largest ground based solar power and world’s largest rooftop solar plant. India targets to achieve 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022.
  • Schemes like Make In India are focusing on bringing investment and progress in renewable energy sector.

Installed capacity and growth rates – 1950 vs today

  • The total installed capacity of renewables in 1950 was nearly 500 MW and in 2018 it is nearly 69000 MW
  • To propagate sustainable lifestyle based on values of conservation and moderation
  • To adopt cleaner, environment friendly path of economic development unlike those adopted by most of the developed countries
  • To reduce emission intensity of GDP by 33 to 35 percent by 2030
  • To increase the share of Non-fossil fuel based electricity
  • To enhance carbon sink by increasing the forest and tree cover by 2030
  • To invest in sectors vulnerable to climate change such as coastal regions, Himalayan regions, water, agriculture etc.
  • To mobilize domestic and international funds for mitigation and adaptation actions
  • To build capacities in terms of Research and development for new technologies to mitigate climate change

Steps taken by India on environmental front

India’s Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) – Paris Deal

  • India has submitted its Nationally Determined Contribution to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change with respect to Conference of Parties held in Paris in December 2015. The INDC aims To achieve about 40 per cent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030, with the help of transfer of technology and low cost international finance, including from Green Climate Fund

Various policy measures have been initiated and special steps taken in addition to providing financial support to various schemes being implemented by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) for achieving the target of renewable energy capacity to 175 GW by the year 2022. These include,

  • suitable amendments to the Electricity Act and Tariff Policy for strong enforcement of Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) and for providing Renewable Generation Obligation (RGO);
  • setting up of exclusive solar parks;
  • development of power transmission network through Green Energy Corridor project;
  • guidelines for procurement of solar and wind power though tariff based competitive bidding process,
  • National Offshore Wind Energy Policy notified,
  • identification of large government complexes/ buildings for rooftop projects; provision of rooftop solar and 10 percent renewable energy as mandatory under Mission Statement and Guidelines for development of smart cities;
  • Incorporating measures in Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS) for encouraging distribution companies and making net-metering compulsory and raising funds from bilateral and international donors as also the Green Climate Fund to achieve the target.
  • Ministry of environment has brought out new rules with respect to solid waste management, Plastic waste management and e-waste management.

Is India’s RE effort sufficient?

  • Due to faster growth of population India needs to meet rising energy demands
  • Even today 60% of energy demands are met with coal which remains a major cause of concern
  • India needs to increase its solar energy storage capacities to develop in the field of renewable
  • India needs to focus more in the availability of land and transmission grids for increasing access to renewable energy
  • Along with enhancing the production and distribution capacities India needs to ensure that the state owned electricity companies purchases that energy.

For example- Tamil Nadu has about 40 percent of the country’s installed capacity for wind power which is less expensive there than coal power. But state-owned distribution companies often don’t buy much of it for a variety of reasons—including their fear that the rise and fall of winds, which they lack the ability to forecast well, will destabilize the grid.


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