The world's largest democracy is targeting a huge expansion of clean energy in the coming years - growth that, if achieved, would transform India's power infrastructure, with dramatic consequences not only for Indian citizens but the planet as a whole. But how can these goals be reached?
The scale of Indian ambition on renewable energy is impressive, to say the least. With around 40GW of renewable energy currently connected to the grid, the country is targeting a staggering 175GW of grid-connected renewables by 2022 - a more than five-fold increase, in the space of just six years. Achieving such an explosion of new clean energy will require a paradigm shift across the board, from India's fractious power markets to its complex regulatory environment. Such changes are necessary, however, if the world's second-most populous country is to bring electricity to its citizens while avoiding the worst impacts of climate change.
Switching India's power sector to clean wind, solar, and bio energy would protect homes and businesses from volatile price swings, improve grid reliability, and enormously reduce pollution and water usage - not to mention help to secure national energy security, low-carbon economic growth, millions of new high-skilled jobs, and access to modern energy services for those still blighted by energy poverty.
Climate Parliament's network of legislators in the Indian Parliament and the State Assemblies are leading the charge. Recent successful parliamentary campaigns include pushing for an increased budgetary allocation to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), as well as a doubling of the coal levy to Rs. 400 per tonne of production - revenues that are now reserved for clean energy investments. Recognising the need for a more comprehensive framework in the energy sector, the Indian Government has recently resolved to prepare a new National Energy Policy - a holistic overview of the entire sector, entailing long-term energy planning around the goals of the Paris COP21 climate agreement.
Climate Parliament MPs have applauded this announcement, and called on the government to accelerate the development of new policy mechanisms to advance renewable energy. Mr. Sanjay Jaiswal MP, the Convener of the Climate Parliament India Network, argues: “Renewable energy is the most attractive investment for India to ensure long term low carbon economic growth. As various RE technology options are available, this is an opportune timing to bring renewables to achieve grid parity and become available to the transmission and distribution grid. A long term energy policy would become a major driving force for the current thrust of government in this space.”
Indian Ambition, Global Impact
The National Energy Policy will focus on energy-related infrastructure and technologies that will augment electricity generation capacity, through a judicious mix of conventional and renewable sources. It aims to provide a conducive environment for renewables by providing a stable and long-term policy structure, transmission planning for renewables, grid integration protocols and institutional streamlining. Therefore, timing is critical, and Climate Parliament MPs have pressed for an early release of the policy.
Mr. Vincent Pala MP, member of Climate Parliament Network, said: “With our climate commitments at the national and international levels, the time has arrived to fully utilise the vast potential of renewables in our country. A holistic energy sector planning would help to channel many aspects of renewable energy like power generation, transmission and grid usage patterns. Capital investments in this risk-laden sector need a comprehensive policy framework for the promotion of the RE Sector.”
The Climate Parliament is looking forward to working with our MPs in India and the Government on forthcoming renewable energy policies, in order to create the best possible roadmap for reforming India’s energy sector and building a foundation for the long-term, sustainable growth of the country.