Thanks to its location near the Equator, India has tremendous solar energy potential. The country receives nearly 3,000 hours of sunshine every year, which is equivalent to 5,000 trillion kWh of energy. With this it can generate over 1,900 billion units of solar power annually, which is enough to service the entire annual power demand even in 2030. But sadly, all this has remained under-utilised, despite the fact that the Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Resources was set up way back in early 1980s.
As per information available, Renewable Energy (RE) sources contribute just about 8 per cent of the total installed power capacity in the country. Among the RE sources, wind power is the dominant component.
Thanks to industrialisation and rise in household consumption, India’s energy demand has been growing rapidly, so much so that the supply of energy has been outstripped by this demand. In the past two decades, the country has seen severe gap in the demand and supply of power.
It is high time that we stop depending on the conventional sources of energy like fossil fuels as these are eventually going to end. Not only is the supply of these fuels limited and fast decreasing, these also take a toll on the environment.
In 2008, the government formulated the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) under which it set a target of reducing country’s carbon emissions intensity of GDP by 20% to 25% between 2005 and 2020. Since there is no GHG (Green House Gas) emission during renewable energy generation, more and more renewable sources should be made use of.
Having said this, it must also be noted that the renewable energy sources are not equally well distributed all over the country. Hence, it is binding upon the resource-rich individual states to work in the sector, rather than the central government.
For example, the country has wind energy potential in only six states i.e. Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. Other states have little or no wind energy potential.
Rajasthan and Gujarat are the regions with maximum solar energy potential. These states have large availability of barren land which increases the feasibility of solar energy systems in these regions.
The same holds true for other renewable sources of energy viz geothermal and biomass.
Top five states in India with highest renewable energy installed capacity are Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan, and the state governments must behave in a proactive manner.
The Narendra Modi-led Union government, with its reformatory incentives as well as a clear policy support, is ensuring that investor interest is generated in this vital sector. Rapid urbanisation, economic growth and increasing population, necessitates that the industry takes benefits of the various policies and subsidy schemes launched by the government in this sector.
These developments will help the renewable sector move on a strong growth path. In the coming years we could see thousands of energy producers feeding the grid or supplying electricity to consumers through local mini-grids. We could also see millions of consumers generating their own electricity and feeding the surplus to the grid.