Indian government has set an ambitious target of replacing coal with renewable energy over time and thereby deliver huge savings and also generate millions of jobs in the RE sector . Slowly this is no longer a pipe dream but a true reality. According to NITI Aayog, investing in renewable energy (RE) brings environmental benefits like reduced pollution while creating employment opportunities. Therefore, RE has the potential to ensure energy security, energy access and sustainability. Our country can save up to Rs 54,000 crore in power costs and reduce air pollution by replacing expensive coal plants with renewables . It is now widely accepted that new coal power plants are not financially competitive with new renewables in India especially with solar power reaching a record low of 2.44 and wind reaching a record low of 2.64.
Also, according to a Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) study, the Indian Railways plans to draw up to 25% of its power needs from renewables and achieve the 5 GW solar target by 2025. Indian Railways is also planning to set up 500 MW of solar generation capacity that will meet the energy needs of over 8,000 stations across the country going forward. Analysts said that the plan has the potential to cut down the railways’ energy bill by 44%.
Second major impact will be the solar water pumping systems . This market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 18.7% during FY 2018-22. Currently, 30 million agricultural pumps are installed in India of which nearly 7 million pumps are diesel based and remaining are grid connected. However, due to unreliable grid supply and increasing diesel prices, solar water pumping system offers immense opportunities to replace conventional pumps.
Third positive impact is the government’s Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP), over fifty lakh conventional street lights have been replaced with LEDs, resulting in annual energy savings of 400 million unit and reduction of 3.3 lakh tonnes of CO2 annually. Under the SLNP, the govt intends to replace two crore conventional street lights.
Furthermore India’s UJALA program, through which the country has distributed more than 241 million LED bulbs, making it the largest and the first zero-subsidy national LED lighting program in the world. Residential consumers can get LED bulbs from UJALA distribution centers or through participating retailers and pay upfront or in smaller installments, which make the bulbs more accessible for poorer customers. The program has helped save more than 6,000 MW of energy and resulted in a 25-million ton reduction in CO2 emissions per year. India plans to replace all of its 770 million incandescent bulbs with LEDs by 2019.
Also solar power is set to replace LPG and Kerosene use including subsidy on LPG & Kerosene. Two wheelers and three wheelers consume 62% and 6% of petrol respectively in India. The saved LPG/Autogas replaced by electricity in domestic sector can be used by two and three wheelers with operational cost and least pollution benefits. Instead of using LPG as heating fuel in domestic sector, for higher end usage, LPG can be also converted into alkylate which is a premium gasoline blending stock because it has exceptional antiknock properties and gives clean burning,
So a twin-edged measure to improve power generation along with adoption of energy efficient technologies, including super and ultra-supercritical, would go a long way in ensuring the nation’s trajectory towards an energy revolution. With a sweeping commitment to solar power, India is emerging as a front runner in the global fight against climate change. Apart from measures to improve generation it would make sense to also whole-heartedly adopt the adage that energy saved is energy generated.
SANJITH S. SHETTY