Renewable Energy – Wind, Tidal, Geothermal, etc.

Aug, 11, 2018

[op-ed snap] A climate for green funds


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Mobilization of resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: India’s renewable energy push and finance required to accomplish the targets


Climate change impact

  1. The impact of climate change are no longer risks that exist in the distant future
  2. A recent HSBC Global Research report found India to be the most vulnerable of the 67 countries assessed for their vulnerability to and preparedness for climate change risks

Huge investments required to combat climate change

  1. The government aims to source 175 GW of power from renewables by 2022 and for nearly 57 per cent of total electricity capacity to come from non-fossil fuels by 2027
  2. It has been estimated that approximately $100 trillion of additional investment will be required between 2016 and 2030 to sync the imperatives of global development with that of addressing the challenge of climate change
  3. Financing clean energy infrastructure, sustainable transport, energy efficiency and waste management are among the key imperatives today

Green finance gaining traction

  1. Globally, green finance is gaining prominence as a medium to raise funds for environment-friendly and climate-resilient projects
  2. Investors are keen to put more of their cash into low-carbon, sustainable projects and those requiring capital

India needs more green finance

  1. In India the concept of green financing is nascent
  2. Measures to encourage green-bonds could help raise finances needed to “green” India’s economy
  3. Some of these can be:
  • Reduce some of the regulatory constraints that currently hamper international investments as well as local pools of capital
  • Guidelines asking provident funds, pension funds and insurance companies to invest a portion of their assets under management in green bonds
  • The government could offer tax incentives to encourage mutual fund and other onshore investors to invest in local green bonds
  • India could also look at issuing a sovereign green bond, like France did to great effect last year
  • Diversifying the green bond market beyond project finance assets into corporate loans, and working more with mid-sized companies (mid-cap market), will go a long way towards building up the green financing ecosystem
  • Allowing banks to claim “priority sector benefits” on their green investments would also help

Way Forward

  1. Amid all the issues that concern us — poverty, education, employment, health — it is easy to forget that global warming is one of the most critical challenges we face
  2. We need to do a lot more and a lot sooner or risk an environmental crisis
Aug, 10, 2018

[pib] National Energy Storage Mission


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, and Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the proposed Mission

Mains level: Need of storage for Renewable sources of energy.


National Energy Storage Mission (NESM)

  1. Energy Storage is one of the most crucial & critical components of India’s energy infrastructure strategy and also for supporting India’s sustained thrust to renewables.
  2. The Expert Committee constituted by Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has proposed a draft NESM.
  3. The objective of this mission will be to strive for leadership in energy storage sector by creating an enabling policy and regulatory framework that encourages manufacturing, deployment, innovation and further cost reduction.
  4. NITI Aayog and Rocky Mountain Institute’s joint report on India’s Energy Storage Mission has proposed three-stage solution approaches:
  • creating an environment for battery manufacturing growth;
  • scaling supply chain strategies; and
  • scaling of battery cell manufacturing.

Key areas for energy storage application include:

  • integrating renewable energy with distribution and transmission grids;
  •  setting Rural microgrids with diversified loads or stand-alone systems; and
  •  developing Storage component of electric mobility plans.
May, 15, 2018

Creating jobs for women in the renewable energy sector


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Development and employment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: How to create quality jobs for women in the RE sector?



  1. Studies estimate that India’s ambitious target of achieving 175 GW of renewable energy (RE) by 2022 could create 3,30,000 jobs in the wind and solar energy sectors alone
  2. Can this rapidly growing industry create jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities for women?
  3. And can these opportunities provide better salaries and health-care benefits, skilling and training opportunities, and enhance the quality of life for women and their families?
  4. What can decision-makers do to support the inclusion of more women in this growing sector?

A study by the McKinsey Global Institute

  1. According to the study, India can increase its GDP by up to 60% by 2025 by enabling more women to participate in its workforce

Can the new RE projects be planned in a manner that also creates good quality jobs for women in these areas?

  1. Currently, India’s RE industry sector, as with other sectors, has low participation of women
  2. India ranks a poor 120 among 131 countries on female labour force participation, according to World Bank data
  3. A majority of women currently employed in the RE sector work at project sites, doing civil masonry work, which is temporary and labour-intensive with little potential for future growth
  4. Moreover, the working conditions on many sites are not always suitable for women as they are devoid of safety and support systems
  5. Where there is a need for more skilled or semi-skilled labour, fewer women can respond due to existing barriers to formal education and training
  6. Consequently, there are very few women in production, facilities, and operations and maintenance roles in the RE sector

Potential in the RE sector

  1. In a recent study, we found that jobs in the RE sector can impact poverty, provided several changes are made to the existing systems
  2. Particularly with the growth of the decentralised RE and off-grid energy sector, there is significant potential to include local women in the workforce
  3. Overall, the study concluded that if the government, clean energy enterprises, training institutes and civil society work together to implement these “tweaks”, India could create good-quality employment opportunities that can support the inclusion of more women
  4. But such interventions need to be designed with women at the centre and not as an afterthought

What can be done?

  1. Training institutes could reduce the bar on entry, allowing for less formally educated women to learn new skills and receive training
  2. Training should be customised to respect specific needs like location, hours of engagement, safety and sanitation
  3. Mobile training modules that can cater to small groups of women in remote areas can be developed
  4. This sensitisation to women’s specific needs can help increase participation of women in the RE workforce
Apr, 30, 2018

Draft mission to kick-start Renewable energy storage

Image source


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, and Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Central Electricity Authority, Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI)

Mains level: Particulars of the Draft National Energy Storage Mission, Grid-Integration-Storage Issues


Draft National Energy Storage Mission

  1. Central Electricity Authority is considering a draft regulation to make storage mandatory for large-scale
    solar projects ranging between 100 MW and 200 MW
  2. This is to kick-start grid-connected energy storage in India, by setting up a regulatory framework and encourage the indigenous manufacture of batteries, under the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE)
  3. The draft sets a “realistic target” of 15-20 Gigawatt hours (GWh) of grid-connected storage within the
    next five years
  4. The mission will focus on seven verticals: indigenous manufacturing; an assessment of technology and
    cost trends; a policy and regulatory framework; financing, business models and market creation; research
    and development; standards and testing; and grid planning for energy storage.

Why Draft Mission?

  1. Currently, Power grids do not have storage options that would help in smoothly integrating renewable
    energy sources with conventional power grids
  2. And the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) is expected to issue tenders for grid-connected storage by the end of the year

Issues in integrating Renewables to the Grids

  1. The problem of Peak Supply and Peak Demand: Solar energy generation may be at its peak at noon, but unless stored, it will not be available when needed to light up homes at night
  2. Renewable sources are inherently intermittent: There are days when the wind doesn’t blow or the sky is cloudy
  3. Grid Stabilization Issue: Batteries could help store surplus energy during peak generation times, but are more immediately needed to stabilize the grid when shifting between renewables and the baseload thermal power (currently in surplus)
  4. Limited Storage Capacity: Once the installed capacity of renewables reaches 100 GW [currently 65 GW], it will become critical to incorporate storage options with current storage capacity. Up to 10% of [solar] power can be injected into the grid without storage, after that, storage will become vital

The Way Forward

  1. It is important to look beyond mere CapEx costs, and also consider life-cycle costs and the distributor’s costs
    due to grid instability and transmission and distribution losses while granting tenders
  2. We need a viable commercial plan for storing renewable energy
  3. The lithium-ion cells needed for battery storage are not manufactured in India, although major players,
    including Indian Oil Corporation and Exide are working to develop indigenous manufacturing capacity
  4. The three-stage solution suggested by NITI Aayog i.e. incentivized land awards, tax credits per job created
    and lowering the number of permits, for indigenous storage infrastructure should be duly implemented
Apr, 13, 2018

India moves to auction its first offshore wind power project


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE), National Offshore Wind Energy Policy, etc.

Mains level: Comparatively high efficiency of the offshore wind energy projects, importance for Indian energy sector, steps taken by the government, etc.


Step for boosting India’s clean energy commitments

  1. The National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE) (an autonomous body under the ministry of new and renewable energy ) has called for ‘Expression of Interest’ (EoI) for the first offshore wind energy project of India
  2. The project will be set up in the Gulf of Khambat, off the coast of Gujarat
  3. High potential: As per official estimates, the Gujarat coastline has the potential to generate around 106,000MW of offshore wind energy and Tamil Nadu about 60,000MW

Why is this step important?

  1. The development assumes significance given the 1,000 megawatts (MW) size of the project, with the government’s plan to set up at least 5 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind capacity by 2022
  2. India plans to leverage scale to bring down offshore energy tariffs by harnessing the enormous wind power potential along its 7,600km coastline

Offshore wind energy projects are more efficient

  1. At global level, it has been observed that, offshore wind energy while being better than onshore wind in terms of efficiency is also becoming competitive and comparable in terms of tariffs
  2. With a large energy market in India, the EoI is expected to evince keen interest from leading players of offshore wind turbine manufacturers and developers
  3. Indian industry can also participate along with suitable tie up with global players

Other steps taken by the government in the same direction

  1. In 2015, the Union cabinet had cleared the National Offshore Wind Energy Policy
  2. The policy involves wind energy mapping of the country to identify high-potential locations to be offered to firms for development through a bidding process


National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE) 

  1. It has been established in Chennai in the year 1998, as an autonomous R&D institution by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Government of India
  2. It is a knowledge-based institution of high quality and dedication, offers services and seeks to find complete solutions for the kinds of difficulties and improvements in the entire spectrum of the wind energy sector by carrying out further research
  3. It has a Wind Turbine Test Station (WTTS) at Kayathar with the technical & partial financial support by DANIDA, Govt. of Denmark
Apr, 11, 2018

[pib] First offshore wind energy project of 1000 MW capacity


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE), Gulf of Khambat

Mains level: Renewable energy potential in India


  • The National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE) an autonomous body under the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has called for ‘Expression of Interest’ (EoI) for the first offshore wind energy project of India.
  • The global EoI is intended to shortlist prospective offshore wind energy developers for a 1000 MW offshore wind energy project in Gulf of Khambat, off the coast of Gujarat.
  • The proposed area is located 23-40 km seaward side from Pipavav port. MNRE plans to install at least 5 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2022.

The first offshore LiDAR was installed in Gulf of Khambhat in Gujarat for measurement of wind resource and National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE) is collecting wind speed data from November, 2017 onwards. Areas off the coasts of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu are two identified areas for development of offshore wind power.

The second LiDAR would be installed off Tamil Nadu coast by September, 2018.

In addition, NIWE is planning to set up few more LiDARs for assessment of offshore wind resources. Besides necessary Geo-Technical and Geo-Physical studies off the coast of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu are underway.

At the global level, it has been observed that, offshore wind energy while being better than onshore wind in terms of efficiency is also becoming competitive and comparable in terms of tariffs.

With a large energy market in India, the EoI is expected to evince keen interest from leading players of offshore wind turbine manufacturers and developers.

Indian industry can also participate along with suitable tie up with global players.

Mar, 05, 2018

Solar goal for 2022 too hot to handle

Image Source


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Concerns(related to solar energy) discussed in the newscard.


Concerns of Solar industry players

  1. India had been on track to meet its target of 100 Gigawatt (GW) of solar energy capacity by 2022
  2. But according to industry players, momentum(to achieve the target) has been severely eroded in the last few months
  3. Issues such as uncertainty around import duties and future tax rates on existing power purchase agreements have dampened investor sentiment


  1. The Director General (Safeguards) had earlier this year recommended imposing a 70% safeguard duty on imported solar cells, panels and modules for a minimum period of 200 days
  2. No decision has been taken yet on this, but the proposal is causing a lot of uncertainty in the industry because of the higher costs this would result in
  3. Industry players across the board have said that they are waiting for more certainty before they bid for more projects or expand their existing projects

India’s growth in Solar Energy Sector

  1. Last year, the global capacity addition in solar stood at 105 GW
  2. India was in third place in terms of how much its market has grown over the year

Another important concern

  1. The other aspect that will likely hold up India’s achievement of the 100 GW target for solar is the rooftop solar component within this target
  2. Out of the total, utility scale capacity is to make up 60% of the target and rooftop solar is to make up the remaining 40%
  3. In other words, the utility scale segment has achieved 30% of the 2022 target with four years to go. The rooftop segment has achieved less than 4%
Feb, 24, 2018

[op-ed snap] Grid stability is key


Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage

The following things are important from the UPSC perspective:

Prelims Level: Particulars of the Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM)

Mains Level: Issues in purchasing surplus solar power from farmers and possible solution discussed in the newscard.


Plan to address concern related to Electricity in rural areas

  1. Instead of transmitting electricity to the farmers, the government wants farmers to use solar energy to power their irrigation pumps

How is it possible?

  1. According to the January 2018 report of the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, there are about 142,000 solar pumps in India
  2. The government is planning to install one million solar pumps by 2021

Steps taken by the government

  1. To achieve this, the Union Budget 2018 has allocated close to Rs. 48,000 crore to set up the Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM)
  2. This programme will help set up more than 28 GW of combined solar capacity through these solar pumps
  3. In the Union Budget 2018, the Finance Minister asked governments to put in place adequate procedures to purchase the excess solar power from farmers
  4. The government is also planning to purchase the surplus power through electricity distribution companies
  5. This proposal will almost certainly increase agricultural incomes and reduce electricity losses when transmitting power to remote rural areas
  6. Analysts claim that losses from distribution could fall to about 12% from the current level of at least 23%

Some issues in purchasing surplus solar power from farmers

  1. The feasibility of purchasing surplus solar power seems problematic
  2. There is a need to address the issue of grid stability that this injection of surplus power is bound to create
  3. The disadvantages currently outweigh the advantages because of the issue of grid stability
  4. All power grids require balancing
  5. This balancing entails meeting the demand with adequate supply 24×7 to ensure there is no blackout
  6. The reason for striking this balance is that electrical energy cannot readily be stored, meaning that power generation ought to work round the clock
  7. Why is the ‘balancing’ needed: wind and solar power sources constantly generate shortfalls and excesses
  8. Solution: to maintain a consistent round-the-clock power delivery the grid operators will need to have a back-up source of power in the form of coal or oil
  9. During the day as well, they will have to be ready to quickly adjust output to compensate for the rise and fall of solar power generation due to changing weather and rain
  10. More stability can be achieved by integrating the grids into all-India grids
  11. Expected advances in storage technology would also significantly improve grid stability


Feb, 21, 2018

[op-ed snap] The renewable purchase obligation is hurting


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Read the b2b

Mains level: The newscard comprehensively discusses some issues related to renewable energy(RE) sector.



 The landmark Electricity Act of 2003

  1. This Act removed the licensing requirement to produce power, and also led to the unbundling of generation, transmission and distribution of electricity at the state level
  2. It introduced the radical idea of open access, and a choice for consumers
  3. It was also the first time that the use of renewable energy (RE) was advocated as part of the national energy policy

 The National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC)

  1. It was to be implemented through eight missions
  2. One of these was the national solar mission, whose aim was to promote the development and use of solar power

The policy of renewable purchase obligations (RPOs)

  1. The RPOs were to be implemented by state governments
  2. The RPOs make it compulsory for all large consumers of energy to ensure that a certain percentage of that energy mix is from renewable sources such as wind and solar

India’s target in the renewable energy sector

  1. The Narendra Modi government in 2015 quite dramatically revised upward the national RE ambition to achieve 175GW by 2022, of which 100GW would be from solar
  2. As of December 2017, solar and wind capacity in the country was 17GW and 33GW, respectively
  3. This means that in the next four years, solar capacity needs to increase by 5.8 times, at a compound annual growth rate of 55.6% per year

Indications from the Economic Survey 2017

  1. The Economic Survey of 2017 indicated that the social cost of renewables is three times that of coal, at around Rs11 per kilowatt-hour
  2. One MW of solar plant requires 5 acres of land, whose cost is loaded on to the power cost
  3. Solar and wind have plant load factors of only 15-20%, which means the installed capacity is idle for nearly 80% of the time
  4. Thus a 50MW solar plant generates consumable power equivalent to about 10 or 12MW
  5. On the other hand, a thermal plant can operate at a plant load factor of as high as 95%

Other issues
Coal Cess

  1. Indian industry is already suffering the disadvantage of higher energy cost due to levies like the coal cess (rechristened clean energy cess)
  2. This cess has gone up by 800% in the last few years; from Rs 50 per tonne of coal in 2010 to Rs 400 in 2016

Renewable energy certificates (RECs)

  1. Furthermore, not every state has adequate RE power available to be purchased
  2. So, instead, renewable energy certificates (RECs) have to be purchased in lieu of RPOs
  3. RECs increase the cost of power, since these are in addition to the total thermal power that needs to be produced and consumed anyway

RE can’t become complete energy source for industries

  1. Solar and wind energy can never completely become the energy source for industries that need uninterrupted, reliable, steady and high wattage electricity
  2. That base load has to come from thermal power


Plant Load Factor (PLF)

  1. A plant load factor is a measure of average capacity utilization. If the PLF is affected by non-availability of fuel, maintenance shut-down, unplanned break down and no offtake (as consumption pattern fluctuates lower in nights), the generation has to be adjusted
  2. A power (electricity) storage is not feasible. A generation of power is controlled to match the offtake
    For any duration, a power plant generates below its full capacity
  3. To that extent it is a capacity loss
Jan, 27, 2018

Renewables sector wants Budget to pack more energy


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Renewable energy is very important for the future of India’s green energy targets. We have set some ambitious targets for the renewable sector, which can only be achieved through extra-ordinary efforts from the government and budgetary provisions.


Expectations of  renewable energy industry from the government

  1. The industry is of the view that there are a number of policy decisions related to import duties and domestic manufacturing, which, if taken, could further boost the sector

Government efforts

  1. The Centre had allocated Rs. 5,472.8 crore to MNRE in last year’s Budget and approved demand for grants for Rs. 10,814.5 crore

Growth of renewable energy sector

  1. Renewable energy generation had grown significantly over the years, touching 70,134.4 million units in the April-November 2017 period
  2. In other words, in 2017-18, India generated 85.6% of the renewable energy it did in the full year 2016-17 with a third of the year still to go

Ambitious target

  1. Industry players said achieving the target of 175 GW of renewable energy capacity and generation by 2022 requires a lot more to be done than simply increasing Budgetary allocation


  1. The sector also felt that the Budget could do more for the bio-ethanol sector as well
  2. The sector is optimistic that Budget 2018 will provide significant financial support towards subsidies for encouraging domestic bio-ethanol manufacturing facilities and remunerative 2G ethanol prices
Jan, 22, 2018

Rooftop solar is still out in the cold


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Net metering, SECI

Mains level: Renewable energy policies in India and issues related to them


Rooftop solar installation target difficult to achieve

  1. Against a target of 10,000 MW for March 31, 2018, the achievement as of the last day of 2017 was 923 MW for rooftop solar installation
  2. The government of India wants the country to have 100,000 MW of solar capacity by March 2022 — 60,000 MW from large plants and 40,000 MW from rooftops
  3. The target for rooftop plants appears unattainable

Reasons behind this

  1. Not an attractive alternative
  • For individual house owners, rooftop solar is still not an attractive alternative to the subsidized power supplied by the electricity distribution companies (discoms)
  • Discoms find ways of preventing big consumers such as factories, shopping malls from putting up rooftop solar plants and generating their own power because these are the customers from which discoms derive their sustenance

2. Net metering not allowed/partially allowed

  • Many states disallow ‘net metering’, which measures the power put into the grid by the rooftop plants
  • Others impose a cap on the capacity allowed for net metering

3. Bias for large size

  • The government-owned SECI , a renewable energy facilitating company, would come out with tenders on behalf of interested discoms
  • The bidders who quote the least tariff will put up the rooftop plants and sell power to the discom
  • By selecting the rooftop plants only through competitive bidding, the proposed policy comes with a bias for large size

What can be done to promote rooftop solar installations?

  1. Government can provide generation-based incentives (GBI) to users opting for rooftop solar
  2. A similar scheme served the wind industry well until it was scrapped last year
  3. A suitably structured GBI would lower the prices for the discoms to be attracted to it


Solar Energy Corporation of India Ltd. (SECI)

  1. It is a company of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Government of India, established to facilitate the implementation of Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission
  2. It was set up as a Non-for-Profit Company to promote solar energy in India
  3. It is the only public sector undertaking dedicated to the solar energy sector
  4. The company is responsible for implementation of a number of government schemes, major ones being the VGF schemes for large-scale grid-connected projects under JNNSM, solar park scheme, and grid-connected solar rooftop scheme
  5. The company also has a power-trading license and is active in this domain through trading of solar power from projects set up under the schemes being implemented by it
  6. The company’s mandate has been broadened to cover the entire renewable energy domain and the company will be renamed to Renewable Energy Corporation of India (RECI)
  7. It will take up development of all segments of renewable energy namely, geo-thermal, off-shore wind, tidal etc. apart from solar energy
Jan, 18, 2018

India will need at least $125 billion to fund renewables dream


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: IREDA, Masala Bonds, Directorate general of safeguards

Mains level: India’s commitment to climate change and various initiatives under it


Huge funds required for renewable energy plan

  1. India will need at least $125 billion to fund its ambitious plan to increase the share of renewable power supply in the country’s grid by 2022
  2. The South Asian nation is one of the world’s most important growth markets for renewable energy

Plan to increase share of renewable energy

  1. Installed renewable power capacity is currently about 60 gigawatts (GW)
  2. India plans to complete the bidding process by the end of 2019/20 to add a further 115 GW of installed renewable energy capacity by 2022

Investment insufficient

  1. In 2015, India said investment of $100 billion in the seven years to 2022 would be needed to meet its renewable energy goals
  2. Global corporate funding for the solar industry—the world’s fastest-growing electricity source—was a tenth of the required amount in 2017 at $12.8 billion

India’s solar energy potential

  1. India, which receives twice as much sunshine as European countries, wants to make solar central to its renewable expansion
  2. It expects renewable energy to make up 40% of installed power capacity by 2030, compared with 18.2% at the end of 2017

Masala Bonds

  1. IREDA, a state-run financier for renewable energy, raised $300 million by selling rupee-denominated bonds, known as masala bonds, in the United Kingdom last year

Challenges in implementation

  1. Most of the financing for India’s renewables drive so far has come from domestic banks
  2. This will not be sufficient and India will also require support from development banks, like the World Bank and other overseas investors
  3. Another challenge in achieving India’s renewable targets is the government’s “Make in India” initiative
  4. India’s directorate general of safeguards, an arm of the finance ministry, has proposed a 70% duty on imports of solar equipment from some countries including China, which so far provides the vast majority of India’s solar panels
  5. This is being done to protect India from cheap solar panel imports
Nov, 25, 2017

Centre to seek 20,000 MW of solar bids


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Government’s future plans of renewable energy projects.


Government’s plan for Solar Projects

  1. The government is planning bids for a total of 20,000 MW of solar energy plants projects in this financial year
  2. Of these projects, 3,600 MW have already been completed
  3. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is planning bids for 30,000 MW of solar projects in 2018-19 and 2019-20, each
  4. In wind energy, the Centre has announced the third wind power auction of 2,000 MW, the largest of its kind in India so far

Make in India link

  1. The government is planning a 20 GW auction, but only for those who are willing to manufacture in India

Upcoming Bids

  1. As per the Ministry’s plan, Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) will invite two separate bids for 3,000 MW of solar projects in December 2017 and January 2018 each
  2. NTPC is to invite a bid for 5,000 MW of solar projects in February 2018
  3. And another 6,000 MW will be bid out in March 2018 by SECI and other Central PSUs

Encouraging results from Wind Energy projects

  1. In wind energy, the Ministry said it had already received bids for 32 GW of projects, which is more than 50% of the 60 GW target set for 2022
  2. The government is expecting bids for a total of 8-9 GW this year, and 10 GW each in 2018-19 and 2019-20
Nov, 22, 2017

‘Indian renewable energy firms among lowest rated’


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Particulars of the report


Poor Score

  1. According to a report by ratings agency Fitch, Indian renewable energy companies are among the most poorly rated investment grade companies in the Asia-Pacific region
  2. The agency expects renewable energy to make up a larger portion of India’s electricity generation, bolstered by untapped generation potential, strong policy support and lower tariffs
  3. The report added that small renewable players would remain protected from price risks due to long-term power purchase agreements
  4. But said that production volumes would vary on the basis of climatic patterns

Issues with Indian renewable issuers

  1. Ratings of the Indian renewable issuers reflect lower plant utilisation, limited operating history, volume risk, weaker counterparties, and weak but improving financial profiles

Report on petroleum products

  1. In a separate report, Fitch said that India’s overall demand for petroleum products would grow at about 5% over the medium term
  2. The demand is driven by strong GDP growth over the next two financial years and continued growth in auto sales
Sep, 20, 2017

[op-ed] A case for continued support for green energy

Note4Students :

Mains Paper 3: Infrastructure-Energy

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: Difference between dry cell and solar cell, Government’s renewable energy target, Share of different renewable energies in the total energy mix.

Mains level: Draft Energy Policy 2017, What will be the implications of the recent move by the government to withdraw all kinds of incentives from the renewable energy sector,on our target of achieving 40% of installed power capacity from non-fossil fuels by 2030? Comment.



  1. Going by recent reports, it appears that the Union government is contemplating withdrawing all kind of incentives that are being provided to renewables-based electricity by 2022.
  2. It is said that there will not be any targeting of renewable energy after 2020 (presumably no renewable purchase obligations, or RPOs, after 2022).
  3. Moreover, the draft National Energy Policy 2017 proposes gradual withdrawal of the provision of “must run” status and other support such as non-levy of interstate transmission charges.
  4. The sharp reduction in bids for solar and wind power forms the basis of the argument that now these technologies are ready to face markets.

Reasons for Low price of Solar Energy

  1. While the record low prices of solar power in the recent past have been on account of very low global prices of solar photovoltaic modules and accessories.

Other Reasons

  1. Payment Security Mecahnism with guaranteed uptake of electricity- Example-Rewa solar park.This in turn helped bring down the cost of capital that constitutes about 70% of renewable electricity prices.
  2. The Solar Energy Corp. of India wind power auction contained three very crucial elements-
  3. Power purchase agreement with PTC (India) Ltd and not the distribution utility, thereby providing security of payment against the sale of electricity as well as assured offtake of electricity.
  4. Waiver of inter-state transmission charges
  5. Compensation for system losses


  1. Therefore, these low prices are the result of several facilitating measures.
  2. So, doing away with such provisions appears to be totally counter-productive to India’s ambitions in this field.
  3. The recent outcomes of the solar and wind auctions may have made officials to take for granted that the things will continue to move in a certain way but at the same time ignoring the key parameters that helped chart out that direction in the first place.
  4. Undoubtedly, a good policy framework has to have sunset clauses for incentives but withdrawals must also be nuanced and gradual, arrived at after taking into account their long-term implications on the sector.

What does Economic survey Volume-2 says about Renewable Energy ?

  1. The survey talks about the “social cost” of renewable energy in comparison to that of coal-based power generation.
  2. Besides other cost parameters, including health and environmental costs, the survey includes “the opportunity cost of stranded conventional power assets” as one of the components of the social cost. 
  3. The losses incurred by investors and lenders due to the underutilization of coal power plants becomes the most significant contributor to renewable energy’s social cost, making it three time more expensive than conventional power.

Counter View points

  1. According to Central Electricity Authority, the share of renewable electricity in India’s total electricity generation was around 7.6% between April 2016 and March 2017. So how can this be the reason for below-par plant load factors of coal power plants?
  2. By the same logic, no disruptive transition to better and more efficient technologies would ever be possible because during the transition stage, the older assets are bound to be underutilized or in a sense, financially stranded. Examples- UJALA, or Unnat Jyoti by Affordable Lighting for All, scheme that aims to promote efficient use of energy. This whole UJALA campaign must also be rendering manufacturers of incandescent lamps in a state of financial stress, so is that being factored in while estimating the social cost of LED lamps? The same also goes for electrical vehicles that surely would result in the supply chain of conventional automobile components becoming stranded assets?
  3. And how transparently does this “social cost” dispensation take into account the cost of longer term impacts of different alternatives?
  4. How accurate are the cost-components and how close are the assumptions to Indian realities?
  5. Public health in any case is always heavily discounted in all such calculations.

Way Forward

  1. A good policy regime tries to balance these seemingly divergent viewpoints and provides direction for long-term and sustainable solutions for larger public good. This is particularly critical when the decisions made today could have far-reaching implications for generations to come.
  2. Besides, basing such decisions on anecdotal premise rather than on sound analytical evidence could very well jeopardize the momentum that renewable energy sector in the country has gained.
  3. It appears as if there is a lack of cohesion within different arms of the government, leading to conflicting signals.
  4. This, however, needs to be managed quickly to avoid the serious implications such mixed signals could have on our commitment to achieve about 40% of installed power capacity from non-fossil fuels by 2030.



Dec, 02, 2016

Kudankulam’s first reactor has posted Rs.1000 crore profit

  1. What: The first 1,000-MWe reactor of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project that commenced commercial power generation on October 22, 2013, has earned a profit of Rs. 1,000 crore.
  2. Significance: The first unit’s continuous functioning without hitch for 278 days demonstrates its technical superiority.
  3. The second unit is also functioning exceptionally well and it will reach its maximum generation capacity of 1,000 MWe either in December-end or in January next year.


Why was there so much protest against Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project?

  1. More than 1 million people reside in the 30 km radius which is claimed opposite to the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) regulations for Nuclear power plants. The Atomic Energy Act can be read and no such regulation is there.
  2. Environment Impact Study has not been made public according to the local people. Can be a good argument.
  3. Relocation for families settled in the area was not done with correct paper work and hence they are not justly relocated. This is usually always the case.
  4. The cooling is light water based and the water is dumped in the sea causing damage to the aquatic life and impact fishing industry there. This is completely baseless as the coolant water is usually very low radiation and dumped deep in the sea with a heavy diffusion.
  5. Coastal Regulation Zone has been a very old policy in India which prevents commercial use of coastal areas. Reactors 3-6 are not yet cleared as they apparently do not confer to this regulation.
  6. Natural disasters are a concern. 2004 tsunami flooded the site where the reactors are being made. Valid point and adequate precautions should be taken to drain the flood.
  7. Liability clause still is not very clear. The protests complain that the liability is held by NPCIL and not the original designers (Russians) according to a secret treaty between India & Russia.


These issues and concerns remain largely same for any large scale project. Some are specific to nuclear establishments but you get the drift right? Hope the b2b rejigs your memory here.

Oct, 03, 2016

Indian NGO bags UN climate award for clean energy project

  1. NGO: Swayam Shikshan Prayog
  2. Project: Training women to become clean energy entrepreneurs across Maharashtra and Bihar
  3. UNFCCC has applauded this project for building a rural distribution network of 1,100 women entrepreneurs facilitating access to clean energy, water and sanitation products and services in several communities
  4. Many of the women in NGO hail from the Marathwada drought-hit areas and have attained a new identity as a result of their entrepreneurial work
  5. The NGO, founded in 1989 in Mumbai, has received financial support from the Maharashtra government, USAID, Miseorer, Europe, and CSR funds from HSBC and Alstom, till now
Aug, 01, 2016

Kudankulam plant safest in the world. Here's why?

  1. Acc. to Russia, it is the first in the world to have post-Fukushima safety enhancement requirements implemented
  2. Features: localising and protective containment, passive heat removal system from reactor plant, closed industrial water intake
  3. Measures have been taken to preserve the biodiversity of Mannar Bay adjacent to Kudankulam while we use seawater to cool down the reactor
  4. Reactor Type: Water-Water Energetic Reactor (VVER or WWER). A kind of pressurised water reactor.
Jul, 21, 2016

Issue in AP over Nuclear Power Plants

  1. Andhra Pradesh already has the Kovvada nuclear park project for 6 1000MW reactors in Srikakulam under way
  2. However, Kovvada has seen some protests of the kind seen at Kudankulam, Mithi Virdi and Haripur
  3. Reasons: Many local residents are unwilling to part with land; Some have concerns over environmental hazards
  4. This is especially given that some of the sites identified for nuclear projects are in a seismically sensitive zone, and have seen tremors in the past
Jul, 21, 2016

A.P. set to be country’s nuclear power hub

  1. News: Russian-owned Rosatom will build its next phase of six reactors in Andhra Pradesh
  2. Earlier: Few weeks back, Govt had announced that U.S. company Westinghouse’s Nuclear Power Project (NPP), planned in Gujarat’s Mithi Virdi, is being moved to Andhra Pradesh
  3. Reason: With other States like Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Maharashtra facing local protests over NPPs, the government is now pinning its mega plans for nuclear energy on coastal Andhra Pradesh
  4. Numbers: If all the projects under consideration from Russia, the U.S. and NPCIL were to actually go through, NPPs in Andhra could account for more than 30,000 MW of the Govt’s goal of 63,000 MW installed capacity by 2031
Jul, 09, 2016

BIS for solar water heaters

  1. News: The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) is working to make Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) certification compulsory for all solar water heaters installed in buildings
  2. This follows a BIS announcement on the quality standards for evacuated tube collector-based solar water heaters, the design of choice for such water heaters
  3. Background: The Indian government stopped subsidies for solar water heaters, leading to an increase in imports from China, which offered products up to 50% cheaper
  4. Domestic manufacturers say that the poorer quality of the Chinese products results in a higher replacement and repair cost
  5. Impact: Will stop the use of cheaper Chinese products that are being used to bypass the intention of rules set by certain states
  6. In order to comply with Karnataka’s compulsory installation rule of 100 litre solar water heater per building, cheap products are obtained, without considering whether it works or not
Jul, 08, 2016

Eight states to offer Rs 5,000-crore green-grid projects

  1. News: Eight states will issue tenders worth Rs 5,000 crore for projects in a renewable energy transmission network under Green Corridor Project
  2. The Grid: Can handle 30,000 Mw of renewable energy at present & an additional system for 10,000 Mw will be issued by September of which 50% has already been issued
  3. Quick fact: The country’s renewable energy capacity is 40,000 Mw, of which wind power’s share is 26,000 Mw and solar power’s 7,000 Mw
Jul, 06, 2016

Coal-based ethanol policy, coming soon

  1. Policy talks: The ministry of road transport and highways has initiated talks with the ministries of power, coal, petroleum, and agriculture to formulate a coal-based urea policy
  2. Coal-based urea: Would cost $60-75 per tonne as compared to $160 per tonne for natural gas-based urea
  3. Rationale: Coal production is surplus in the country and that additional fuel can be used for producing urea
  4. Benefit: Could ease the government’s subsidy outgo of Rs 45,000 crore on urea
Jul, 01, 2016

World Bank offers US$ 1 billion for India's solar mission

  1. News: The World Bank announced US$ 1 billion to support India’s ambitious solar programme
  2. World Bank’s largest financing of solar for any country in the world to date
  3. The commitment US$ 625 million financing for the installation of at least 40MW grid-connected solar rooftop projects
  4. The rest of the commitment would be for infrastructure for solar parks, solar and hybrid technologies and transmission lines
  5. The World Bank also signed an agreement to be the financial partner for the International Solar Alliance, led by India
Jun, 28, 2016

Renewable energy to soon get a separate trading platform

  1. News: A separate power trading platform is being jointly developed by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and Power Trading Corporation of India (PTC)
  2. Reason: Increasing share of renewable energy (RE) in the grid and the likelihood of it disturbing the existing power systems
  3. Trade: States with surplus Renewable Energy generation could sell and those ones which want to meet their Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) would get a platform to do so
  4. National Tariff Policy: Mandates that states have to meet part of their energy requirement from renewable sources
  5. RPO: Was launched in 2010 & makes it obligatory for distribution companies, open-access consumers and captive power producers to meet part of their energy needs through green energy
  6. Progress: During 2015-16, barring a few exceptions, none of the states has met its RPO, for fifth year in a row
  7. PTC: A joint venture of several entities with the government
Jun, 28, 2016

Centre asks states to set up biogas plants to provide clean fuel

  1. News: Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has asked states to set up one lakh small biogas plants this year
  2. Objective: To provide clean gaseous fuel for cooking and organic bio-manure as a by-product
  3. Expected: Saving of 21.9 lakh LPG cylinder
Jun, 17, 2016

Draft wind-solar hybrid policy proves restrictive

  1. Context: Govt’s draft policy for wind and solar hybrid plants, released for public comments recently
  2. Aim: To facilitate hybridisation of existing solar or wind systems, besides new hybrid projects
  3. Comments: It is a good step, but restrictive as it puts a cap on the size of such units & also lacks in details relating to tariffs
  4. Restrictive: Hybrid capacity addition, for existing plants, must be limited to the sanctioned transmission capacity
  5. This could pose a problem for areas where transmission capacity is not enough to cater to the energy potential
  6. How? In wind farms with low turbine density, a significant solar potential could be tapped (even of the order of 500 kW to 1 MW), which would require additional transmission capacity
Jun, 11, 2016

Renewable energy capacities surpass hydro generation- II

  1. Thermal: The total capacity of the thermal sector stood at 2,11,420.40 MW
  2. Hydro: It suffers from multiple challenges, including non-availability of long-term financing
  3. Also the cost imposed by royalty power (from 12% to 36%) to be offered free to the state government & limited opportunities for the private sector
  4. This is potentially changing, as the central government has proposed to give policy attention to hydro power too
  5. Further, the government’s bilateral efforts with Bangladesh to implement cross-border transmission means that hydro-power from the north-eastern states can be delivered to the load centres cheaper than before
Jun, 11, 2016

Renewable energy capacities surpass hydro generation- I

  1. Context: The Central Electricity Authority data
  2. Finding: The renewable energy sector has for the first time surpassed hydro power generation
  3. Data: The total capacity of renewable energy sector increased to 42,849.38 MW, surpassing the total capacity of hydro power sector at 42,783.42 MW, out of the nation’s total installed capacity of a little over 3 lakh MW on April 30, 2016
  4. Reasons: The renewable energy investments in solar and wind have benefited from a strong central policy and several years of early-stage private sector investment, respectively
May, 19, 2016

Solar parks to come up on dam sites

  1. Context: Initiative for solar parks by the State Water Resources Department of Maharashtra state
  2. Solar parks will be made on the land which is available for different irrigation projects
  3. Also proposal of afforestation program on the land available with department
  4. Both projects would help to contribute in environment protection
May, 14, 2016

Wind energy developers must secure power grid connectivity

  1. Context: The Renewable Energy Ministry’s draft guidelines for the development of onshore wind power projects
  2. Ministry has sought comments from stakeholders until May 27
  3. Draft Rules: For setting up onshore wind projects ranging from land use permissions to metering and real-time monitoring to eventual decommissioning
  4. Positive: Rules are comprehensive in their scope
  5. Criticisms: Rules could also be over-prescriptive
  6. Rules lay the onus of securing grid connectivity and transportation on the developers
  7. This could dampen investor interest in the sector
Apr, 20, 2016

Outdated power grids hampering storage sector

  1. What? India’s outdated grid infrastructure is incompatible with the storage technology that private investors are looking to install
  2. Disadvantage: It is holding back the emergence of the electricity storage sector
  3. Need: Push for the adoption of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind will increasingly rely on power storage since supply from such sources is irregular
  4. Power storage facilities are critical for the government’s rural electrification programme as well
Apr, 15, 2016

Centre to create $1 bn fund for solar

  1. Context: Govt is looking to create a $1 billion equity fund for solar energy in the country
  2. Aim: To help new companies to come up for solar to become a movement
  3. Also, to make a transit from megawatt to gigawatt
  4. Govt wants to tap global financial institutions like the World Bank for this purpose
  5. Today, World Bank gives 5% of their money for renewable
Apr, 13, 2016

Renewable energy projects got loans of over Rs. 29,000 cr

  1. News: Banks and non-banking financial companies disbursed Rs.29,000 crore for renewable energy projects
  2. Background: In 2015, 40 major banks and NBFCs committed to provide large debt funding to renewable energy projects during the span of the next 5 years
  3. Some private banks in India have signed deals with development banks to provide loans at concessional rates
  4. The Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency is also providing loans at low rates following its recent agreements with international financial institutions
Apr, 08, 2016

Benefits of switching to LED bulbs

  1. News: According to Energy Efficiency Services Ltd., shifting to LED bulbs could save an average family around Rs. 4,000 a year on their power bills
  2. Reason: Energy efficiency gains and lower replacement costs
  3. Benefits: The life expectancy of an LED bulb is 25,000 hours, compared to 8,000 hours for CFL bulbs and 1,200 hours for incandescent bulbs
  4. The country would save 100 billion units of electricity a year by switching over to LED
  5. Switching to LEDs also helps the govt. meet its carbon dioxide emission reduction targets
Mar, 26, 2016

India to be 100% e-vehicle nation

  1. Context: India plans to be a 100 % electric vehicle nation by 2030
  2. This would need monetary support from neither govt nor Indian citizens
  3. Instead power ministry is working on a scheme to give e-vehicles for zero down payment
  4. For these, people can pay out of their savings on expensive fossil fuels
Mar, 23, 2016

Waste-to-energy (w-t-e) gets investments

  1. Context: Private firms looking for guaranteed returns from micro-power plants are eying projects to generate electricity from municipal waste
  2. As many as 24 w-t-e projects to produce 233 MW are currently in different stages of construction
  3. About Rs.65,000 crore of public and private investments will flow into city waste management, cleanliness and w-t-e projects over the next 3 years
Mar, 12, 2016

Learn about UJALA

  1. Acronym: Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All
  2. Agency: Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), under Ministry for Power
  3. It is the name given to LED based Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme, which is currently running successfully in over 120 cities across India
  4. Achievement: EESL has distributed over 7.47 crore LED bulbs across the country
Mar, 08, 2016

Small wind energy gets boost

  1. Context: Centre offered interest rate rebate, flexibility in timing of tax payments to small wind producers who upgrade their plants
  2. Move is in line with govt’s wind re-powering policy
  3. Strategy: Stepping up power capacity by revamping existing projects rather than going for new ones
  4. Why? Acquiring land and getting green clearances for new projects may be time-consuming
Feb, 08, 2016

Clean energy sector sees 44% rise in new capacity addition

  1. The first 9-month period of this fiscal recorded 44% growth compared with the year-ago in the same period
  2. New Capacity Addition –  3,030 MW, during first three quarters of this fiscal
  3. Focus Area – Solar continues to be the fast-growing segment and has overtaken bio-power in total capacity
  4. Achievement – Wind power sector crossed the milestone of 25,000 MW in total capacity
  5. Total grid-installed renewable power capacity in the country – 38,822 MW
Feb, 05, 2016

$1.25 billion renewable energy fund

  1. Government is in the process of setting up a $1.25 billion fund, backed by state-owned and private institutions, to finance renewable energy projects
  2. The move will help in the scaling up of clean energy generation from 37 GW at present to 175 GW by 2022
  3. State-owned institutions such as Power Finance Corp. Ltd and Rural Electrification Corp. Ltd have already committed a total of $300 million to the fund
  4. This fund will make equity and mezzanine investments in renewable energy projects and will be modelled like the National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF)
Dec, 01, 2015

$7-bn pledge for clean energy research

  1. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and other investors pledged $7 billion for R&D of clean energy.
  2. It was part of a larger initiative with world governments that promised to double spending on renewable energy research.
  3. He warned potential investors that new energy technologies take longer than IT or biotech to launch.
  4. The fund will support a wide range of technologies such as biofuels, carbon capture, high wind, fission, fusion, etc.
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