[Webinar] The 100 GW milestone

  • Mongabay-India launches a series of monthly webinars focussing on India’s clean energy journey.
  • The first webinar on September 30 featured industry experts and senior environment journalists discussing the past, present and future of clean energy in India.
  • The webinars are open for anyone interested in understanding the nuances of India’s clean energy programme.

Ahead of COP26, the United Nations’ upcoming climate conference in November this year, countries are committing to a substantial shift towards clean energy sources. India has recently achieved a milestone of installing 100 GW of renewable energy. The next big targets are installing 175 GW by 2022 and 450 GW by 2030.

Mongabay-India has been reporting on the developments, challenges, and complexities in India’s energy sector. From the potential of rooftop solar projects, to exploring the reasons for the stagnation in wind power industry, our stories have covered the trajectories in the clean energy sector. To achieve the upcoming targets, India has to solve the financial challenges, land conflicts and more.

To take the renewable energy discussions forward, Mongabay-India is hosting a series of informative webinars called Clean Energy Talks.

The first webinar of the series titled The 100 GW Milestone, featured doyens of the clean energy industry along with senior environment journalists, who come together to discuss India’s progress, targets, and challenges with renewable energy.

The panelists at the webinar included Deepak Gupta, Director General of the National Solar Energy Federation of India (NSEFI), D.V. Giri, Secretary-General of the Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association (IWTMA), Apurba Mitra, Head, National Climate Policy, World Resources Institute (WRI) and S. Gopikrishna Warrier, Managing Editor, Mongabay-India. The Contributing Editor of Mongabay-India, Mayank Aggarwal, moderated the session.

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The discussion focussed on India’s clean energy trajectory, Power Purchase Agreements, land conflicts that arise with the large-scale solar and wind power projects launched by the government.

In the remarks from the panelists, Deepak Gupta started off by talking about the future of renewable energy in India, saying that this decade should be about focussing on technology, identifying land, involving rural communities in renewable energy entrepreneurship and setting up indigenous manafacturing capabilities. With this consolidation within this decade, India will be ready to take off by 2030 and meet ambitious goals. India currently has the target to achieve a capacity of 175 GW of renewable energy by the end of 2022, and a 450 GW capacity by 2030. Gupta added that the supply of renewable energy should be in sync with the demand and in the future, there should be thought on not only increasing supply but instead, reducing demand through energy efficiency and energy conservation.

D.V. Giri of IWTMA too reiterated on the point about India’s potential to become a global manufacturing hub for renewable energy components, particularly for wind energy, and a large potential for exports. He touched upon the issue of central procurement of renewable energy, which is causing tariffs to drop to a level that is unsustainable. He said that the future cannot depend on single or central procurement and explained the limitations in reaching ambitious targets.

Wind power accounts for 60 gigawatts (GW) of the 175 GW target of installed renewable capacity by 2022 and 140 GW of the 450 GW target by 2030. One of the reasons for the slowing down of the installation of the wind power projects, is the shift to a bidding route that seeks the lowest per-unit price during an auction.

Apurba Mitra of WRI India said that India has made positive progress in its transition to renewable energy and while policy incentives initially spurred the demand, today, there is an increased interest in innovative means of power generation, whether floating solar or offshore wind and enhancing storage capacity. Mitra highlighted the challenges to the growth of renewable energy including power system flexibility constraints, batteries and storage mechanisms, land availability and the social impact of decarbonisation. She emphasised that while there are lots of positives to India’s renewable energy journey, there is a need to explore technology and demand and ensure that the growth is in a responsible manner.

Mongabay-India’s Managing Editor, S. Gopikrishna Warrier, added his thoughts from the perspective of the media covering clean energy in India. Warrier touched on the issues of land and equity as India transitions to renewables. He pointed out recent trends in the sector: prominent fossil fuel corporations moving towards renewable energy, the loss of social support provided by traditional coal mining as the country transitions away from it and the policy bipolarity where there is ambition towards renewable energy on one hand and renewed support for coal on the other. He also raised the question of the clean supply chain and the need to analyse the cradle-to-grave costs of renewable energy – “Are we net poorer, environmentally?”

Read more stories on renewables and their link to the environment as part of Mongabay-India’s special reporting project on Clean Energy.

The discussion further went into analysis of land conflict, health of discoms, impact on jobs, policy flip-flop and the larger impact of clean energy on environment. The question of financing renewable energy in India was brought up during this webinar and will be discussed in greater detail in the next webinar scheduled for October 26, 2021.

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