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How Can India Secure Its Energy Needs? Two Words: Renewable Energy

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By Dr P C Maithani

Renewable
Since 2014, around US$ 50 billion investment has been made in renewable energy in India. Representational image.

India’s renewable energy programme is one of the largest and among the most vibrant. India’s strategy on renewable energy is driven by the objectives of energy security, energy access, and also reducing the carbon footprint of the national energy systems.

Progressively declining costs, improved efficiency, and reliability have made renewable energy an attractive option for meeting the energy needs in a sustainable manner and helping India pursue its low carbon developmental pathway.

Background

Ahead of the Conference of Parties (COP) 21 in November 2015, India submitted its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the UNFCCC, outlining the country’s post-2020 climate actions. India’s NDC builds on its goal of installing 175 gigawatts (GW) of renewable power capacity by 2022 by setting a new target to increase the country’s share of non-fossil-based installed electric capacity to 40% by 2030 (with the help of international support). At the UN Secretary General’s summit in New York in September 2019, India announced its intention to reach a target of 450 GW.

Achieving 175 MW capacity is said to create over 330 thousand jobs, and save 326 million tons of CO2 emissions every year.

Setting Its Sights On Renewable Energy

Renewable energy has started playing an increasingly important role for augmentation of grid power, providing energy access, reducing consumption of fossil fuels and helping India pursue its target of lowering its carbon emissions. India is well on the way to realize the ambitious target of 175 GW by 2022.

As of February 29, 2020, 86.75 GW renewable energy capacity had been commissioned and 67.79 GW at renewable energy capacity was at different stages of fruition. Normatively, 175 GW of renewables that comprises 100 GW solar, 60 GW wind, 10 GW biomass and 5 GW small hydropower, is said to create over 330 thousand jobs, and save 326 million tons of CO2 emissions every year.

India’s NDC builds on its goal of installing 175 gigawatts (GW) of renewable power capacity by 2022 by setting a new target to increase the country’s share of non-fossil-based installed electric capacity to 40% by 2030.

Globally, India stands 5th in solar power, 4th in wind power, and 4th in total renewable power installed capacity. Mainstreaming of renewables is a critical dimension of India’s 2030 vision. Since 2014, around US$ 50 billion investment has been made in renewable energy in India. Around 50% of this investment was in the solar energy sector. New opportunities have emerged- altogether new business space has been created. Indian companies have begun to explore foreign stock exchanges as a source of funds. India is progressively becoming a most favoured destination for investment in renewables.

India’s renewable energy programme is much beyond the production of electricity and covers a basket of applications including the use of solar thermal energy for cooling, heating, drying, and other industrial applications. Renewable energy has emerged as a true multi-benefit system, combining ecological necessities with domestic priorities, economic and job creation opportunities.

India has worked systematically for putting in place facilitative policies and programmes for achieving the goal. Several diverse policy instruments such as a reverse auction mechanism, that reduced the cost for solar power to the utilities, and offering a Power Purchase Agreement for 25 years with a government entity, led to an increasing bankability of the projects so as to secure funding. The decline in solar and wind power prices in India has assisted in accelerated deployment. It can be said that transparent bidding and facilitation for procurement of power through tariff-based competitive bidding process have led to a significant reduction in the cost of solar and wind power.

In order to facilitate smooth integration of increasing share of renewables into the national grid, the Green Energy Corridor projects have been under implementation.

These projects seek renewable power evacuation and reshaping the grid for future requirements. Renewable Energy Management Centres are being set up in all renewable resource-rich states for forecasting and scheduling renewable energy generation, and real-time tracking of generation. This would further help in absorption of renewables into the grid.

Gearing Up The Agriculture Sector For Change

The recently launched PM-KUSUM (Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha Evem Utthan Mahabhiyan) scheme is to be implemented over the next four years for de-dieselisation of the farm sector and increasing farmers’ energy independence and income. Under the scheme, India has plans to provide 1.75 million stand-alone solar agriculture pumps and carry out solarisation of 1 million grid-connected agriculture pumps by the year 2022.

India has plans to provide 1.75 million stand-alone solar agriculture pumps and carry out solarisation of 1 million grid-connected agriculture pumps by the year 2022. Representational image.

Farmers are also being encouraged to set up small solar plants of the size of 500 KW to 2 MW on barren lands for additional income. Three components combined, the scheme aims to add a solar capacity of 25.75 GW by 2022.

Renewable energy deployment plans by 2022 are likely to generate business opportunities of the order of US $60 billion.

It offers a very good opportunity to the businesses to leapfrog technologies and create volumes by investing in solar power projects; manufacturing of solar energy technologies, with an aim to indigenise the complete supply chain; research and development centres; laboratories for testing and standardisation; engineering and consultancy services; and support to start-ups, including through venture capital, mezzanine finance, angel investments.

Renewables represent new energy in a ‘new’ India and has significant employment opportunities for the youth. Renewable targets in the next decade are said to create a large number of direct and indirect job opportunities in teaching, training, research and development, manufacturing, project designing, installation, and maintenance activities.

The sector is already witnessing a surge of start-ups that can be said to be a reflection of youth engagement. India’s efforts are directed towards ensuring that the best policies are implemented to promote sustainability, spur innovative businesses, promote indigenous manufacturing with concomitant economic spillovers and increase energy generation and consumption in a sustainable and environmentally benign manner.

About the author: Dr P C Maithani works as an Adviser in the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. Views expressed are personal.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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