Event ReportsPublished on Jan 14, 2010
India has over thirty years of experience in developing biogas, biomass and solar energy and this expertise needs to be leveraged better
Renewable energy in India: 2030 and beyond

For India to realise its growth potential, it will have to make a three-fold increase in its energy supply. Given the inevitable rise in its energy consumption, the only way to retain carbon neutrality in the future would be to expand its renewable energy capacity.

The view emerged at a day-long workshop to identify the potential of renewable energy and the contribution it can make beyond 2030, conducted by the ORF on Thursday, January 14, 2010

The inputs from this workshop will form a part of a report on energy scenarios for 2030 and beyond that the ‘Centre for Resources Management’ at ORF is developing in partnership with experts from the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Mr. Sunjoy Joshi, Distinguished Fellow and President, Center for Resources Management at ORF, initiated the workshop by giving a broad overview of the current Indian energy scenario and the renewable energy sector in the country.

Chairing the first session on Wind power development, Dr. Malti Goel, Scientist Emeritus at the Jawaharlal Nehru University and former advisor to the Ministry of Science and Technology. highlighted the need of increasing the R&D investment in Renewable Energy to those comparable to developed countries.

Mr. Dilip Nigam, Director, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, elaborated on the government’s policy to redirect incentives to generation rather than capacity addition. He gave a detailed account of the wind power sector in India and outlined the various government polices that have made it the most successful Renewable energy source in India. While renewable account for only ten per cent (15,000 MW) of the total power generation capacity, wind accounts for 11,000 MW of that capacity. And, with a potential of 48,000 MW, Wind is among the most promising options for the future, Mr. Nigam pointed out.

Presenting the views of the private sector, Mr. Chintan Shah, Suzlon Energy Limited, illustrated the various models and tariff mechanisms that have proved successful in the industry. He attributed the high growth rate to the mature and organized nature of the industry vis-à-vis the solar industry.

Given that wind energy stations are located in select parts of the country, Mr. Shah suggested that they be integrated into the National Grid and they would contribute up to 5% of grid connected electricity in the coming years. He also advocated greater use of the Renewable energy certificates which could be traded between the states.

The Second Session on the Future growth Strategy of Solar power in India was chaired by Prof Jyoti Parikh, noted economist and Executive Director, IRADE. She expressed skepticism on India’s ambitious target of increasing solar power generation capacity to 20,000 MW by 2030 as it represented almost 15% of the planned solar capacity worldwide.

Mr. Anil Patni of Tata BP Solar India pointed out in his presentation that while India’s potential for solar energy generation was the highest globally, Germany with the least potential had developed the best technology. He also noted that poly-silicon used in solar wafers accounted for much cost in producing solar panels. He then illustrated the diverse uses of solar panels in lanterns, pumps and telecommunications. Highlighting key points in India’s Solar Mission Mr. Patni described the three phases of growth in the sector which involved gradual deployment of technology, creation of critical technological capability to reduce cost followed by rapid scale up and enhancing the domestic manufacturing base at the same time.

Mr. Debobroto Banerjee, BP Solar’s Business Development Manager, described how solar PV manufacturing industry in India continues to be driven largely by exports. The past six years have seen a 45% increase in the production of Solar PV, driven by technological improvement, scale economies and regulatory incentives. He predicted that in the future, the solar power generation sector would follow three different business models i.e. a grid supply model, institutional retail model and distributed retail model.

Mr. Lavleen Singal of Acira Solar gave an overview of Solar Thermal energy in India. He explained the optimal cost and tariff structure in the Solar Thermal sector and pointed out that ‘indigenization’ could substantially reduce overall costs.

Post-lunch final session focused on the Development prospects of Small Hydro power, Bio-Mass and Waste to energy in India. The session was chaired by Mr. R.C Nakul, former Chief Engineer, Central Electricity Authority (CEA). Mr. Nakul gave details of how capacity addition plans are made by the CEA. He said that historic trends are used to forecast future trends and that the forecast of the CEA had been consistent with actual demand.

Mr. Amit Jain from the Clinton Foundation talked on the Waste to energy project that the foundation has initiated in Delhi and highlighted the cost effectiveness of generating power from it. He however highlighted three challenges that had prevented the rapid development of waste to energy projects in India. They were- the inadequate energy content (in terms of calorific value) in waste, tipping fee and the complicated administrative procedure involved.

Delivering the concluding address Mr. V Subramanian, former Secretary of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy gave an insightful overview of the state of renewable energy in India and the Government’s role in developing this sector. He pointed out that India was among only a handful of countries that actually possessed a Ministry for Renewable Energy and that India had over thirty years of experience in developing biogas, biomass and solar energy. The lack of capability in hybrid renewable technologies, the justification for trying to market high cost solar power to the poorest man in rural areas and the inability to replace diesel use in generators in Urban Areas despite solar power being cheaper in comparison, were just some of the key issues that Mr. Subramanian raised.

This report has been prepared by Hemant Nair and Kaustav Chakrabari Consultant and Research Assistant respectively at ORF.

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