The target with regards to green and renewable energy put forward by the government are achievable, provided we also invest more and attract private sector into this, is the view voiced by Narendra Taneja, global energy expert.
The government from various platforms has made it clear that India is set to achieve 450 GW of renewable energy installed capacity by 2030. In August, the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy announced that the country has achieved the milestone of installing 100 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity, excluding large hydroelectricity capacities installed in the country.
Taneja is of the opinion that to attain these targets and to expedite the process of transition we need to prepare the state governments, we have to help them to build capabilities, capabilities in terms of financing, capability in terms of management, capability in terms of regulations, capability in terms of taking initiatives, and capability in terms of execution.
“I think we need to go for massive decentralisation, we need to empower states more, you have to give them more training, etc.” Taneja said.
According to him, unfortunately, in India, some people and some environmentalists have portrayed the scenario in stark binary terms – such as fossil fuel versus green energy debate, and that, he argues, is very unfortunate. “We cannot afford this kind of narrative, because in India, we should not forget that energy and climate are two sides of the same coin. We can't decouple them.”
Throwing light on the ongoing debate of coal versus renewable, Taneja said, “When it comes to coal, India is under tremendous pressure from environmentalists and from some powerful Western countries to get rid of coal as soon as possible. I mean, when you look at India's renewable thing, we are doing very well. But at the same time, my sense is that, we actually have no alternative to coal for [a] very long time to come.”
Many experts believe that coal isn’t going away. Despite bold and ambitious clean energy targets, coal use is expected to increase as India’s overall energy demand grows. Similarly, he added, “we have to be clearer that we need coal as a part of our energy security, and also as a key fuel when it comes to our power production and overall energy. At the same time, we need to work how fast renewables can replace coal. So it's a huge challenge.”
Taneja, who is the chairman of the New Delhi-based Independent Energy Policy Institute, believes that the transition from coal to renewable is not going to be that easy. And it's going to take a much longer time than many people in the West estimates. And, it is a challenge staring India in its face.
“So, there are three things that needs to be done, firstly, coal sector needs to be modernised on top priority, we should allow foreign capital, foreign technology, and the best international practices into the sector,” Taneja said.
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