By Gautam Mohanka
In a major encouragement for boosting up the production of renewable energy in the country, the Union Minister of Power and New and Renewable Energy R K Singh has pledged that India will have more than 65 per cent power generation capacity from non-fossil fuels by 2030. This means that India has set the target to have a 500 GW installed capacity of renewable energy by the end of the decade.
The assertion by the central government ministry is a strong step towards building a robust renewable infrastructure in the country. The ministry has further reiterated that India will have a staggering 90 GW of solar equipment manufacturing capacity by 2030. The reason why the figure seems achievable is that the country, with a renewed focus on reducing the overall carbon footprint, already has a solar installation capacity of 20 GW and around 15-20 GW is under construction. India is eyeing to have an additional 40 GW of solar manufacturing capacity to come under the Solar PLI-II.
Till date, India has a promising 170 GW of renewable energy manufacturing capacity and an additional 80 GW is under construction. Regarding the green hydrogen manufacturing capacity, the ministry has informed that industry players are aggressively working on achieving 25 million tonnes of green hydrogen capacity and with the help of renewed policies the number can easily be over 35-40 million tonnes.
The renewable energy targets and the figures achieved till date have been backed by the steadily rising interests of industry players in bringing in a green transformation in India and the government’s constant focus on taking measures to reduce the country’s carbon footprint and meet the sustainable development goals (SDGs) target committed during the Paris Agreement. To promote the growth of the renewable energy sector, the government has made several policy changes in the recent past which can play a major role in India achieving its ambitious targets.
The government has recently announced the allocation of Rs 19,500 crore for solar PV modules under the production linked incentive (PLI) scheme, which is expected to enable a stead-fast transition towards renewable energy in the country. The initiative by the central government is projected to save around Rs 1.37 trillion in imports; thereby further encouraging domestic production and making India self-reliant. While India had been mostly dependent on imports for PV modules, the government allocating a substantial amount to domestic manufacturing is significant for the growth of the solar energy sector in the country.
The government had earlier introduced a list of domestic manufacturers from where solar power project developers could purchase modules and had also imposed a staggering 40 per cent basic customs duty (BCD) on imports of modules. However, considering the rising demand for solar products and the government’s renewed commitment towards achieving its ambitious 2030 renewable energy targets, the government is now considering relaxing the requirement of mandatory sourcing of solar modules from an approved manufacturer.
Further, in February 2022, the government set a target to become the global hub for the production and export of green hydrogen – produced by electrolyzing water using renewable electricity. The country is strategizing plans to reduce the cost of green hydrogen to $1 per kg from $ 5- 6 per kg now, to encourage industries to use cleaner sources of energy. Though the future economy fueled by green hydrogen still faces several challenges like the cost of producing hydrogen from renewable electricity is still higher than fossil fuel alternatives across the world. This might lead to the consideration of blue hydrogen alternatives, which are derived from methane or coal, coupled with CO2 storage.
However, to create a robust renewable energy infrastructure in the country and for India to achieve non-fossil fuel power generation up by 65% in 2030, India will have to aggressively emerge as a renewable energy and storage powerhouse. If India can successfully take the sustainable path and reduce its carbon footprint by replacing fossil fuel-based electricity generation with non-fossil sources, it will be able to significantly decrease the heavy import expenditures and open opportunities for increased investments in renewable energy.
The author is Managing Director, Gautam Solar.
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