Since the Industrial Revolution, the energy mix of most countries across the world has become dominated by fossil fuels. This has major implications for global climate and human health.
Over a third of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions today result from the burning of fossil fuels for energy. And fossil fuels are responsible for large amounts of local air pollution—a health problem that leads to at least several million premature deaths each year.
To reduce GHG emissions, we need to rapidly shift towards cleaner sources of energy such as renewables that strengthen energy security, enhance economic competitiveness and yield significant additional benefits such as improved health and more jobs. Renewable energy deployed well at scale can reduce the emissions intensity of India’s power sector and drastically improve energy access across the country.
India has made huge strides in renewable energy. Facilitating polices and regulations have supported the growth of India’s renewable energy market, which has consistently been among the top ten countries in terms of attractiveness. Solar is on a fast growth trajectory due to advances in technologies, investments and markets. The National Hydrogen Mission is slated to play a significant role in achieving India’s climate goals, and the green push will help India meet climate commitments made at the COP-26. Globally, India’s leadership of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) has made it a dominant renewable energy force.
The 500 GW of non-fossil fuel capacity target is a welcome affirmation of India’s commitment to climate action. But it also an ambition that requires strategic actions across the entire power ecosystem from generation to transmission to distribution. Renewable energy systems have the fundamental difficulty that power is intermittent. This is why large power storage schemes through batteries or otherwise are significant. Only recently have efforts at forecasting and scheduling of wind and solar power been ramped up.
Another challenge around scaling up renewables in India is the financial health of power discoms, many of which are facing losses due to weak infrastructure and inefficient operations. These losses prevent them from making the investments required to improve power supply and to prepare for the wider penetration of renewable energy. The COVID 19 pandemic brought the distribution sector to a tipping point. The demand from the commercial and industrial sectors decreased considerably, which impacted discom revenues. On the supply side, the increasing quantum of renewable energy from solar and wind tested the resilience of the distribution system. With 2022 being the hottest year over the last decade, the change in climatic patterns affected accurate scheduling generation and dispatch from renewable energy. Clearly for distribution companies, the pandemic brought the double whammy of demand and supply side disruptions,making business-as-usual no longer an option.
India’s 500 GW non-fossil fuel capacity target by 2030 demands synergistic actions across the power sector value chain. Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation works to accelerate the development and adoption of renewables in India’s power system to support the clean energy transition. We engage with distribution companies, regulators, industry and civil society using a three-pronged approach: