Oil shocks during the 1970s and the resulting adverse impact on the balance of payment arising from the sudden price rise and supply uncertainty drove India’s focus on renewable energy for achieving energy self-sufficiency. 

The Commission for Additional Sources of Energy was created within the Department of Science & Technology (DST) in March 1981. It was responsible for policy formulation, programme implementation, and research & development (R&D) for the renewable energy sector and technology development.

Over the years, India has emerged as one of the renewable energy leaders worldwide. Under the Paris Agreement, India submitted its Nationally Determined Contribution, under which it has committed to the following targets on a “best efforts basis”-

  • To reduce the emission intensity of its gross domestic product by 33-35% (compared to the 2005 levels)
  • Create an additional carbon sink of 2.5-3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030
  • 40% cumulative electric power installed from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030. It intends to do so with the help of technology transfer and low-cost international financing.

During the COP26 Summit in Glasgow held in November 2021, Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi announced that India aims to become a net-zero economy by 2070 and has set a target of installing a non-fossil energy capacity of 500 gigawatts (GW) by 2030.  Of this, 300 GW will comprise of solar power, 140 GW of wind and 60 GW of hydropower.

The Government of India had set a target of 175 GW installed capacity from renewable sources by 2022, which includes 100 GW from solar, 60 GW from wind, 10GW from biomass, and 5 GW from small hydro.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), global renewable generation in 2021 reached an all-time high, exceeding 8,000 billion units (BU), a record 500 BU above 2020. Output from wind and solar PV increased by 270 BU and 170 BU, respectively, while hydropower generation declined by 15 BU due to drought, notably in the U.S. and Brazil. Nuclear power output expanded by 100 BU.

Despite the rebound in coal use, renewable energy sources and nuclear power had a higher share of global electricity generation than coal in 2021. Without increasing output from renewables and nuclear power, global CO2 emissions in 2021 would have been 220 Mt higher.

The recent global energy crisis and interruptions in domestic electricity supply due to coal shortages have shown the need for a diversified mix of energy and the importance of developing energy storage systems.

The Prime Minister launched the ‘AatmaNirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ (Self-reliant India campaign) in May 2020, with an economic package of ₹20 trillion (US $ 269.8 billion) to strengthen the nation’s fight against coronavirus disease (COVID-19). It aims to achieve self-reliance within the pillars of the economy, infrastructure, systems, demography and demand.

The stimulus package announced with the campaign is aimed at Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), farmers, low-income groups, agriculture and policy and infrastructure reforms and incentives.

The Government has come up with various initiatives under AatmaNirbhar Bharat, including the introduction of structural and procedural reforms, various production-linked incentive (PLI) programmes designed to attract investments, the Make-in-India programme to boost domestic manufacturing capacity, reduction of the corporate tax rate, import barriers to providing domestic manufacturers a fair playing field and steps to improve operational efficiency.

There has been an emphasis on supply-side measures, addressing long-known bottlenecks of insufficient infrastructure and inefficient business processes, including labour reforms. Several measures have been taken to reduce transaction costs, especially for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and facilitate the inflow of capital, technology, and international best practices into the industries.

For more on India’s Renewable Energy journey, read the CII – Mercom report “Pathways for global partnership in green energy – Powering Aatmanirbhar Bharat & the world.”

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