India is the world’s most attractive destination in the energy sector that has the potential to attract a trillion dollars in investment over the next few years, Union power minister Piyush Goyal said on Saturday. The minister of state with independent charge for power, coal and renewable energy said that his optimism for the energy sector stemmed from the Narendra Modi government’s climate commitment. India has signed the Paris climate accord and is committed to significantly reducing its carbon footprint. And taking a lead on this mission is Goyal’s ministry of renewable energy. The government has set an ambitious target of setting up 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022. “Solar is a major focus. From 2500 MW in 2014, installed renewable energy is now 8500 MW. We have done three times in two years of what was done in the past many decades,” said the power minister on the second day of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit.
But Goyal’s ministry is working on adding equal weightage to other forms of green power such as wind and hydropower, by easing policies. The government is in the process of giving final touches to a hydropower policy that will address several issues that have plagued these projects, especially land acquisition. He was quick to clarify that India was not responsible for the worsening global warming concerns — even with 17% population it contributes to 2-2.5% of green house gases – but the government was committed to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. “It is an article of faith with the Modi government that we expand renewable energy and reduce pollution as we generate power,” Goyal said.
The minister said the developed world had emitted a bulk of the greenhouse gases and based on the “polluter pays” principle, the West had a responsibility to help India. “We hope the West will come up to their promises. So far their efforts have been terrible.” Of India’s total installed power capacity of over 300 GW, about 46 GW is renewable including solar, wind and small hydropower projects. While Piyush Goyal is working overtime to increase the percentage of renewable sources in India’s energy mix, the minister feels that his initiatives will not disincentivise coal-based power projects. “We need coal-based thermal power to provide stable base load in the grid to support renewable sources of power,” said Goyal. Simply put, to avoid instability in power transmission, coal-based power is required to flow through grids, as renewable energy supply depends on weather conditions.