Union Minister of New and Renewable Energy, Dr. Farooq Abdullah has said that India is committed to increasing the share of renewable power in the electricity mix to 15 per cent by the year 2020. He said an action plan has already been developed that aims at accelerating the deployment of renewable energy with a target of around 30 GW of renewable power by 2017. Dr. Abdullah was addressing a distinguished gathering at the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA) in Dublin in Ireland yesterday. Stating that with a present installed capacity of over 25 GW of grid-connected power, India today stands among the top five countries of the world in terms of renewable energy capacity, Dr. Abdullah said renewable power represents about 12 per cent of total installed electricity generation capacity in India. He added that E&Y all renewables Country Attractiveness Index has ranked India as the 4th most attractive investment destination.
Dr. Abdullah highlighted salient features of the Jawahar Lal Nehru National Solar Mission and said that it aims to facilitate the installation of 20 GW grid-connected and 2 GW off-grid solar power, 20 million sq. m of solar thermal collector area and 20 million rural households with solar home lighting by 2022. He added that India has already succeeded in setting up about 1 GW solar power capacity. Dr. Abdullah said that the reverse bidding process adopted under the mission has led to reduction in the price of solar electricity from about 35 US cents per kWh to less than 17 US cents per kWh in the last one year alone. He further said that despite the strong push for solar energy, wind energy continues to contribute significantly to India’s renewable energy matrix and with over 17 GW installed capacity, India competes globally in manufacturing and deployment and occupies the fifth position in the world. He said that surplus biomass material could also potentially be used to generate about 20 GW of power.
Stating that around 1.1 million Indian households are already using solar energy to meet their lighting energy needs, Dr. Abdullah said that the present efforts are focused on creating a framework for a self-sustaining programme based on a rural entrepreneurship model to be able to provide universal energy access. Dr. Abdullah told the international community that India has geared its policy and regulatory regime to measure up to the challenges of a low carbon growth paradigm. Giving details he said the national electricity regulatory framework makes it mandatory for a specified percentage of total electricity in the country to be generated through renewable power while nationally tradable renewable energy credits have also been introduced in the form of renewable energy certificates. He said a national Energy Efficiency Mission aims to save about 23 million tonnes of oil-equivalent of fossil fuel every year by 2014-15, along with an avoided electricity capacity addition of 19,000 MW. At the same time, he said that the national Green India Mission aims at expanding the forest and green cover by over 10 million hectares over the next decade.
Outlining the roadblocks on low-carbon expressway, the Minister said that investment and technology are two of the biggest challenges facing the world today. He said that broad estimates indicate that the India’s investment requirement in renewable energy would be in the range of at least US $ 50 billion in the next five years alone. The Minister was hopeful that the renewable energy programme in India would benefit from the proposed Green Climate Fund under the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). He said in addition to the proposed funding under multilateral regimes, India also expects finances under the bilateral route. Dr. Abdullah added that the private sector has also always played a key role in India’s efforts to tap renewable energy and India encourages foreign direct investment for renewable energy development and deployment.
The minister also strongly supported the need for devising a mechanism for unrestricted flow of renewable energy technologies. He said there is a real need for creation of a global technology mechanism that treats renewable energy technologies as ‘Global Commons’. He said that as nations from around the world meet at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, India expects a global action that is compatible with the efforts being made at the national level.