• Electrical India
  • May 5, 2017

Towards Securing Energy Security in India 

Renewable energy sources and technologies have potential to provide solutions to the energy problems faced by the developing countries like India. These technologies have long been recognized as an important part of the solution to address energy security concerns...

- Dr. Naveen Kumar Sharma,
Anuj Banshwar, Dr. Yog Raj Sood


 Power industry is moving rapidly from regulated conventional setup to a deregulated environment. In the deregulation environment, generation, transmission, and distribution are independent activities. India has a vast supply of renewable energy resources, and it has one of the largest programs in the world for deploying renewable energy based products and systems. India is a developing and fast-growing large economy and faces a great challenge to meet its energy needs in a responsible and sustainable manner. There is a competition among generators for managing different customers. Main benefits from the deregulation include cheaper electricity, efficient capacity expansion planning, cost minimization, more choice, and better service. During the nineties decade, many electric utilities throughout the world have forced to change their way of operation and business, from vertically integrated mechanism to open market system. India is on the path of rapid economic growth along with speedy overall development; simultaneously it has to face the global threat of climate change. India has unique renewable energy resources (RES) and development of country depends to a great extent on harnessing these sources. India has unique RES and development of country depends to a great extent on harnessing these sources. Since conventional sources of energy pose significant threats to our current and future global security, environmental quality, health and society. So, there is urgent need to promote renewable energy in present Indian restructured power sector in sustainable and eco-friendly manner. Restructuring in Indian power sector started with the unbundling of Orissa state power utility, and soon followed by many other states throughout India.

  Power is one of the most critical components of infrastructure crucial for the economic growth and welfare of nations. The existence and development of adequate infrastructure is essential for sustained growth of the Indian economy. In the recent past, India has been growing at an average rate of 8.5%. Growth of economy is reciprocally linked to energy usage, and consequently the energy requirements of the country have increased phenomenally in the last couple of years. Over the years, Indian power sector has experienced approximate six-time increase in its installed capacity - it jumps from 30 GW in 1981 to over 306 GW by 30 September 2016, but still there is a huge gap between generation and demand in India. Hence, it needs to be establishing more generation plants preferably to come from renewable sources by governmental as well as various private sectors. Restructuring has changed the traditional mission and mandates of utilities in complex ways, and had large impacts on environmental, social, and political conditions for any particular country. So, there is a great need to promote the renewable energy source in Indian power sector to meet future energy demand and remove GHG emission for environment protection. Deregulation encouraged the growth of new independent power producers whose business requirements transformed the power plant industry.

  Plan wise growth of Indian power sector is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1:  Plan wise growth of Indian power sector

  The functions of Central Electricity Authority (CEA) are to advise the Ministry of Power (MoP) on national power policy, national power planning and regulatory matters on the national level where as State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERCs) does the same function at state level. Indian power sector is organized into five Regional Electricity Boards such as Northern Regional Electricity Board (NREB), Southern Regional Electricity Board (SREB), Western Regional Electricity Board (WREB), Eastern Regional Electricity Board (EREB) and North Eastern Regional Electricity Board (NEREB). As shown in Figure 2, each regional electricity board covers many states electricity boards in India as on 30 September 2016. With the establishment of various inter-regional links, inter-regional power exchange has grown manifold. Growth of inter-regional power exchange has helped in meeting more demand in energy deficit regions besides achieving overall economy.

Current Status of RES in India

  Renewable energy has been an important component of India’s energy planning process. The importance of renewable energy sources in the transition to a sustainable energy base was recognized in the early 1970s.

a. Grid Connected

  India, total grid-connected renewable power generation capacity of 45,916.94 MW has been achieved till 30 September 2016, which is about 15% of the total installed power generating capacity in the country. It includes wind power of 28 GW, small hydropower of 4.3 GW, biomass power of around 4.8 GW, and around 8.5 GW Solar Power as shown in Table 1.

  A capacity addition of 24,000 MW is targeted during the 12th Plan period that would take the renewable power generating capacity to nearly 50,000 MW by 2017. This momentum is likely to be sustained and it is envisaged that the renewable power capacity in the country will cross 87,000 MW by 2022. The MNES (Ministry of New and Renewable Energy Sources), Government of India (GOI), has undertaken measures to facilitate the growth of both grid and off-grid RE power through specific programs. Major programs in India for power generation from renewable include wind, biomass (cogeneration and gasifiers), small hydro, solar, and energy from wastes. The contribution of renewable to the total installed capacity of electricity generation has been rising after private participation into generation and distribution due implementation of restricting of power sector. The total potential of renewable in India for power generation is estimated to be 84777 MW with the major contribution coming from wind energy.

(b) Off-Grid Renewable Power

  It needs to be underlined that for two major reasons Indian renewable energy priorities are different from that of the developed countries. Most important, it provides energy access to large rural populations including those in inaccessible areas and meeting unmet demand in many other areas. Perhaps the remote areas can get electricity only through renewable sources. Table 2 presents a summary of the achievements in off-grid/ distributed renewable power and decentralized renewable energy systems. While these achievements are evidently impressive, there is great need for potential and deployment of such off-grid/ distributed/ decentralized systems.

Environmental, Social and Economic Benefits by RES

  Renewable energy is central to climate change mitigation efforts. Broad estimates indicate that mitigation from existing renewable energy portfolio is equivalent to around 4-5 % of total energy related emissions in the country. India is already providing competitive green investment loans, tariff subsidies and tax breaks for the renewable industry. These are some of its measures to encourage the economy to transform into a low-carbon economy. A sustainable energy economy offers not just ecological benefits, but social and economic benefits too. Solar energy in India has the potential to offset a huge volume of GHG emissions as demonstrated and help realize a low carbon economy at a faster rate. India’s climate modeling studies show that its per capita emissions will be around 2-2.5 tones of carbon-dioxide equivalent by 2020 and around 3-3.5 tones of carbon-dioxide equivalent by 2030, compared to around 1-1.2 tones presently.

Figure 2. Regional electricity board of India and RES share of region wise installed capacity.

Table 1. Estimated Target and cumulative achievements of RES connected Indian grid

  RES is in direct contravention to the huge social, economic and environmental externalities created by conventional power projects. The foremost benefit of deployment of RE technologies is employment generation. The renewable energy industry offers a variety of highly skilled and semi-skilled jobs and the sector is highly employment intensive. In India, if we sincerely implement the 15% RE target set by National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC), we would have to add 90,000 MW of additional renewable power up to 2020. At an average of 20 jobs per MW (both direct and indirect) addition of 90,000 MW of renewable capacity can create 1.8 million jobs. Energy security and autonomy would be the major economic benefit due to freedom from fossil fuels. Import dependency exposes us to major price risks since fossil fuels are globally traded commodities.

Future perspectives for RES in India

  The Government of India is taking a number of steps and initiatives like 10-year tax exemption for solar energy projects, etc., in order to achieve India’s ambitious renewable energy targets of adding 175 GW of renewable energy, including addition of 100 GW of solar power, by the year 2022. The government has also sought to restart the stalled hydro power projects and increase the wind energy production target to 60 GW by 2022 from the current 20 GW. Most of the investments in renewable energy come from private sector. Total estimated investment in renewable energy power projects during last three years is around Rs 86,000 crore. As per inputs provided by Central Electricity Authority (CEA), around 15,400 MU has been generated through solar energy during the last three years and it has met the energy requirement to that extent in the country. A capacity addition of 14.30 GW of renewable energy has been added during the last three years under Grid Connected Renewable Power, which include 5.8 GW from Solar Power, 7.04 GW from Wind Power, 0.53 from Small Hydro Power and 0.93 from Bio-power.

  In the present Indian power sector with maturing technologies, promotion policies in renewable energy business, and suitability of various new renewable projects is likely to improve resulting in higher utilization of available government funds and faster market growth. India has experience with many technologies and their implementation. Worldwide India ranks fifth in installed wind energy installed capacity, fourth in annual PV production capacity and second with biogas plants. India possesses a very large solar energy resource which is seen as having the highest potential for the future. The first, recently announced, the very ambitious Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) with a target of 20,000 MW grid solar powers, 2,000 MW of off-grid capacity including 20 million solar lighting systems and 20 million square meters. Solar thermal collector area by 2022 is under implementation. The main objectives of the mission are to help reach grid parity by 2022 and help set up indigenous manufacturing capacity. By addition of RE capacity via creation of the National Clean Energy Fund; India is contributing more renewable power through grid. In India, many states recognizing by renewable energy as a grid-connected option and entry of major corporate groups into manufacturing of RE devices.

Figure 3: Target through RES in Indian grid connected power (in MW)

Table 2. Off-grid Renewable Power (up to 30.09.2016)

  Only renewable are eligible for support from within their country of origin and count towards that Government’s renewable and carbon targets. Renewable energy is experiencing new enthusiasm and vibrancy all across, and the foundation of a new economy is being laid that is inclusive, sustainable and aspires for de-carbonization of energy in a definite timeframe. Increased recognition of the contribution of renewable energy makes to rural development, lowers health costs (linked to air pollution), energy independence, and climate change mitigation is shifting renewable energy from the fringe to the mainstream of sustainable development. For renewable development in India, the renewable energy program has been in existence for more than three decades, but a market for renewable energy technologies still need to be existed. Renewable energy strategy needs to be integrated with liberalization of energy markets and withdrawal of direct government interventions in energy sector. Need to construct market-based energy policies that provide a competitive market framework, and may internalize externalities in terms of energy security, environmental protection and economic efficiency for effective promotion of renewable. India’s rural areas and in reducing consumption of fossil fuels which is essential for future energy security of the country. It outlines the policies that have been followed to foster the growth of this sector and also indicates the targets and the future pathway.


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