Getting it right on renewable energy is a long-term game. There is no debate on the opportunity, provided the challenges are met in time.
One potential hurdle is India's ability to become a manufacturing hub. It will need a combination of high investments, access to good technology at an affordable price and a sound policy framework. None of this can be underestimated.
According to Gaurav Sood, CEO, Sprng Energy, a renewable energy platform set up by private equity fund Actis, India will need to be able to attract the investment by doing a few things right.
"We have to address key factors among which are domestic demand and export markets, help manufacturing become competitive, create an ecosystem for production of equipment, various raw materials/sub-components," he says. That's not all. He outlines the cost of financing, reliable and competitive power supply as other factors.
Some measures have been taken by the government. Sood points to the Rs 4,500-crore production-linked incentive scheme to set up manufacturing for polysilicon, cells and modules.
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Imposing basic customs duty on solar PV cells and modules is viewed as a step in the right direction, making it attractive to support local manufacturing and compete with the biggies globally.
Vibhuti Garg, Energy Economist, Lead India, Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis is clear that the government needs to have a stable long-term strategy and provide a balanced framework.
"They should not only boost domestic production but also provide opportunities for Indian companies to tap the global market. It is necessary to formulate plans to support backward integration and set up cell, wafer and ingot manufacturing facilities in addition to modules," she maintains.
State governments, explains Garg, should facilitate the acquisition of land and utilities at concessional rates and expedite regulatory approvals.
Quite clearly, manufacturing is what can set us apart from other countries and give India a genuine shot at creating a long-term renewable energy story, both socially and from a business standpoint.
"India can change the landscape of renewable energy by building an ecosystem for solar product manufacturing along with storage manufacturing to enable renewable energy grid integration. Clear political intent along with a long-term vision is what is now needed for this sector to grow sustainably," sums up Garg.
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