The global energy landscape will change drastically in the coming years, particularly in the efforts to strengthen policies and actions to counter climate change. The urgency and soaring momentum around clean energy transition is reflected in Net Zero emission pledges by 66 countries in 2021.
India’s COP26 announcement of 500 GW of non-fossil capacity with 50% share of energy needs from renewable energy by 2030, followed by Net Zero targets is a significant step towards the global fight against climate change. These national targets are aligned with India’s climate commitments made at the Paris Agreement and balance its developmental prerogatives. India has a huge opportunity to develop new economic models to establish a low carbon intensive paradigm and provide a blueprint for other developing economies.
On the back of a highly conducive policy environment, a steady influx of capital and new technologies, India has made remarkable progress in the renewable energy sector in the last few years and ranks fourth in the overall renewable energy capacity in 2021. It has also achieved its commitment made at COP21 Paris Summit by meeting 40 percent of its power capacity from non-fossil fuels due to phenomenal growth in solar and wind in India’s energy mix. India is also one of the world’s largest producers of bioenergy and has big ambitions to scale up its use across the economy by launching various encouraging schemes e.g., SATAT.
India’s global leadership in clean energy was established by the Green Grids Initiative—One Sun One World One Grid (GGI-OSOWOG) at COP26 launched by Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi. This initiative is backed by more than 100 countries and it aims to establish the first international network of global interconnected solar power grids. The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is taking the lead in enabling collective global action through a multilateral effort towards Net Zero under the joint leadership of India, UK, France, Australia, and USA and aims to mobilize more than $100 billion by 2030 to promote solar power globally.
India is particularly well placed to become a global leader in green hydrogen, giving the recent government policy on green hydrogen and ammonia. The policy encourages investments and can play an important role in decarbonisation efforts by reducing emissions from industrial, power and transport sectors. It is estimated that if India is successful in capitalising the green hydrogen, it can easily abate 400 million tonnes of CO2 by 2050.
India’s journey from 10 GW to 150 GW in just 15 years highlights our country’s desire to transition towards greener energy. The adoption of energy efficient smart technologies and innovations, along with the supporting policies such as the PLI for solar manufacturing and the launch of sovereign green bonds are instrumental in making the sustainable energy ready future within reach.
India, being a major force in the energy economy, is set to rise as one of the primary drivers of growth and demand creators in the world. While energy transition is gaining pace, it requires faster action than previously envisioned. India must strive to put people at the centre of this transition and achieving the trifecta of jobs, growth and sustainability is much needed.
The Government and Industry can come together to ensure smooth transition in India’s energy story such as effective public-private partnerships to drive the green hydrogen economy, achieving grid scalability, need for strong network of battery storage, land acquisition for large scale solar panel installations, regulatory compliances, and easy access to financing. Since there is also a growing consensus to use natural resources more effectively and efficiently by maximizing the economic value from wastes by recycling and reusing them i.e., the transformation from a linear to a circular economy should be the way forward. These measures will not only help establish energy security and reduce import dependence but also have a great potential for employment generation, skilling, and R&D breakthrough.
The article first appeared in the April 2022 issue of CII Policy Watch, Theme – Energy Transition.