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Green Energy Transition in India

An existential threat that could adversely affect the trajectory of human history is climate change. India is the third-largest consumer of energy in the world. Since 2000, energy consumption has increased, with coal, oil, and solid biomass still meeting 80% of the need. The conventional energy sources that contribute most to climate change are fossil fuels. They produce around 90% of all carbon dioxide emissions and over 75% of all global greenhouse gas emissions.

Green energy is the key to a better future and can help India reach its goal of having no net emissions by 2070. India could therefore lead the way in building a new model of economic growth that may eschew the carbon-intensive strategies that many nations have previously adopted and serve as a model for other developing economies to make the transition to clean energy.

What is Green Energy?

Green energy is defined as energy derived from renewable sources. Green energy is also known as clean, sustainable, or renewable energy. Green energy generation emits no dangerous greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, resulting in little or no environmental impact. Solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, low-impact hydroelectricity, and certain qualified biomass sources are all key green energy sources.

Efforts Towards Green Energy Transition

India declared in 2019 that it would increase its installed renewable energy capacity to 450 GW by 2030. The Production Linked Incentive Program (PLI) scheme is another initiative of the Government of India aimed at improving the industrial sector in order to produce raw materials for renewable energy.

The PM-KUSUM (Pradhan Mantri-Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan) scheme intends to provide farmers with financial and water security by harnessing 25,750 MW of solar energy capacity by 2022. Solarization of water pumps is an example of distributed power at the consumer's doorstep.

On its website, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy also hosts the Akshay Urja Portal and the India Renewable Idea Exchange (IRIX) Portal. IRIX is a platform for energy-conscious Indians and the global community to exchange ideas.

Other Initiatives Influencing India's Energy Transition

Challenges Related to India’s Energy Sector

In India, access to energy is a serious issue, with significant disparities in access. In India, around 77 million families still use kerosene for lighting. The situation is exacerbated in rural India, where up to 44% of households lack access to electricity. While India has launched a number of programmes and attempts to combat energy poverty, they have encountered logistical challenges and inadequate local implementation.

In the first half of 2022-23, India's crude oil import bill climbed by 76% to USD 90.3 billion, while overall import amount increased by 15%. With its rising reliance on imported oil, India's energy security is under significant strain, and the current disrupted global supply chain caused by geopolitical turmoil is exacerbating the problem.

In terms of renewable energy, India also relies heavily on other countries such as China for solar modules. Backward integration in the solar value chain is lacking since India currently lacks capacity for manufacturing solar wafers and polysilicon, impeding the shift to sustainable energy.

Climate change has a direct impact on fuel supply, energy demand, and the physical durability of current and future energy infrastructure. Heatwaves and disrupted monsoons caused by climate change are already stressing existing energy generation, making it even more critical to minimise fossil fuel emissions.

Women are more likely to participate actively in household chores and are at risk when long-term household energy is produced from unclean resources such as firewood, coal, and cow dung. The use of non-renewable energy sources raises the risk of respiratory, cardiovascular, and psychiatric illnesses in women, as well as maternal and newborn mortality.

According to data from the Ministry of Coal in 2021, the gap between demand and domestic supply of coal is growing. Despite the existence of significant reserves, coal output in the largest coal-producing states has been dropping. Rising rates and unresolved contractual concerns with electricity plants are exacerbating the problem.

The International Energy Agency predicted in its World Energy Outlook report that with increased urbanisation and industrialisation, the demand for energy in India alone would rise by more than 3% each year. At the same time, global petroleum prices are rising rapidly.

What Should be the Way Forward?

By supporting renewable energy, women's empowerment and leadership in the energy sector could assist hasten the transition to a low-carbon economy. To ensure equal chances in green jobs for both men and women in the workforce, the "just transition" should include a gender perspective. Women, particularly as responsible mothers, wives, and daughters, can play an essential role in the green energy transition through business and policy making.

Clean energy supply chains must be expanded to include a significantly wider number of countries rather than being limited to affluent countries. In this context, the COP27 climate finance agenda can serve as a vehicle. As old energy sources are phased out, revenues and jobs will transfer from one region to another, which must be properly handled.

India can foster university-level inventions that will assist the country in pursuing an economically feasible clean energy transition. Thus, India's demographic dividend may be used, and students would be encouraged to pursue research and innovation rather than traditional education. The Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA) programme, for example, reduced the unit cost of LED bulbs by more than 75%.

The Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Climate Change, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), developed 'In Our LiFEtime,' a programme that both urges and supports young people aged 18 to 23 to adapt and promote sustainable lifestyles.

There is a need to rethink and reestablish trust in public transportation, which includes purchasing more buses, implementing e-buses, bus corridors, and bus rapid transit systems, as well as digitising public transportation. Emission standards should be tightened, and biofuels should be used in place of fossil fuels. It is also critical to build multiple electric freight corridors to promote electrification in order to realise the benefits of electric vehicles.

Future growth in India would necessitate resilience on numerous fronts, including energy system design, urban development, industrial growth and internal supply-chain management, and impoverished livelihoods. Through distributed energy systems and the encouragement of home manufacturing, India may gradually lessen its reliance on commodity imports and foreign supply chains.

With time, India's manufacturing capacity and technological superiority present a potential to harness Make in India to transform the country into a more self-sufficient green economy and globally competitive green energy export hub.

Last Modified : 12/11/2023

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