India is the world’s 3rd largest Carbon Dioxide emitter as well one of the biggest contributiors to the rising global carbon emissions. With a heavy reliance on coal industries for generating power, a shocking 65% of India’s electricity comes from coal. So much so, that it’s coal consumption is more than what Japan and USA utilise combined! These statistics led many climate policy experts to believe that India is far behind on fully adopting clean energy and meeting it’s targets as mentioned in the Paris Agreement. However, recent developments have indicated that India is very much capable in meeting those targets.
India’s commitment to the Paris Agreement
The Paris Agreement essentially aims at bringing leading nations together for a common cause of combating climate change and it’s adverse effects. It also helps nation’s strengthen their policy to shift towards clean and sustainable energy for the long run. In a surprising turn of events, India seems to be able to exceed expectations on meeting 2 of it’s pledges-
1. Increasing power generation capacity without using fossil fuels by about 40% by the year 2030
Today, India's reported use of renewable, hydroelectric and nuclear sources to generate power has already reached 38%
2. Reducing carbon emissions from its 2005 levels by about 30-35% by the year 2030
Analysis of India’s energy sector as of today shows a trajectory that will likely reduce India’s emissions by 40-45% by 2030!
India’s has it’s own targets for clean energy
By 2022, India aims to achieve 175 gigawatts (GW) in renewable energy, out of which it has already achieved 89 gigawatts.
At the U.N Climate Week in New York in September, Modi also announced increasing India's Renewable Energy capacity to 450 GW by 2030.
These ambitious targets could be a result of India having two thirds of the worlds most polluted cities and Delhi being deemed as the most polluted capital in the world due to its highly polluted air quality.
Target’s are being met because of advanced technology
Global advances in ‘Green Technology’ has increased India’s reliance on clean energy alternatives like - wind and solar power as well as energy storage. These energies are being widely adopted across sectors as the prices are low and demands are high. In fact, solar and wind power have being competing with coal as a cheaper alternative since 2018, making it a more attractive energy source.
Reliance, one of the world’s biggest refining complex, has said that India is likely to completely move away from fossil fuels and become completely reliant on clean, renewable energy in the next few decades. It aim’s to help India in moving in this direction by building up a reservoir of clean, affordable and sustainable energy with solar, wind, hydrogen, fuel and battery cells. "India is in the right mindset to completely, in the next few decades, move away from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Be Atmanirbhar (self dependent)," said Mukesh Ambani at a launch event.
Even Tata Power and the Rockfeller Foundation aim at a joint effort of setting up around 10,000 micro-grids in remote Indian villages by 2036 in an effort to connect around d5 million households to local, clean and sustainable energy.
However, hurdles still exist before India achieves it’s target
While it is now possible to shift to cleaner alternative of solar and wind for energy production, they are not exactly a constant and reliant source of power. If such renewable Henry becomes the backbone of India’s power production, storage of such power will be of paramount importance.
While costs of such storage is a key issue, Ajay Shankar, a distinguished Fellow at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) tells CNBC that these costs have been seeing a trend of gradual decrease. “The expectation is that they continue to fall quickly. India is taking the first steps towards deploying storage technologies and getting experience of managing the system.”. He also says that when the costs of storage has decreased significantly, large scare production for such energy storage will be possible which will then see a trend of fossil fuel use declining rapidly and completely.
Another barrier that stands between India achieving its clean energy target is how Delhi refuses to adopt any measures in reducing its Greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions citing that it would “hurt it’s economic development”.
While PM Modi has emphasised on multiple occasions the country’s commitment to honouring the Paris Agreement and that "the protection of the environment and the mother planet is an article of faith", Industrialisation seems to frequently come in the way. The economic need to continue production for various industries has hampered any efforts to reduce GHG emissions and our carbon footprint. India's priority in finding a way to balance the goals of economic development as well as environmental stability seems to be a tough but essential battle that it needs to win for the greater good.