Net Zero is important, but we must provide enough electricity for growth: Power Minister RK Singh – EQ Mag
Union Power Minister RK Singh on Friday pointed out to the industry that India is a world leader in energy transition.
Addressing the session titled “Renewables – Powering the Net Zero Agenda of India” on the final day of the CII Annual Session 2023 in New Delhi on Thursday, the minister said, “We had pledged that by 2030, we will have 40 per cent of our capacity from non-fossil fuels. We achieved this by 2021, nine years in advance. We have pledged that 50 per cent of our capacity will come from non-fossil fuels by 2030. This trajectory will be adhered to.”
The Union Minister has reiterated the need for India to keep adding energy capacity so that the nation can keep growing in the times to come.
“What we need to be concerned about is the requirement of energy for our growth. There can be no compromise on this. Our electricity demand is growing rapidly. By 2030, energy consumption is expected to double,” the minister said in a statement from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.
He said the country would need to add capacity so that the country can grow. “Net Zero is important, but what is more important is that we ensure enough electricity for our growth. The living standards of our people will need to improve – and that will require higher per capita consumption of electricity,” the minister said.
The power minister recalled that the country has added 1.84 lakh MW of power from 2014 till now, but that this is not sufficient. “Our per capita carbon emissions are one-third of global average, and there is going to be no compromise in ensuring 24/7 electricity,” said the Minister.
“No problem in investing, power sector is sounder than it was before”
The Minister assured the investor community that India is one of the fastest growing countries with fast-growing energy demand, making it a big market for investors.
“The demand is there, come and invest. We have addressed the challenges. We have taken care of the challenge of viability, addressing payment of both legacy dues and current dues. We have brought down legacy dues to almost 50 per cent of what it was earlier, and we seek to wipe it off in 8-9 months or so,” the minister said.
Losses of discoms, too, have been brought down; we have transformed the power sector, the minister said, adding, “There is no problem in investing in power sector now, market is growing. We have changed the systems in such a way that the sector is sounder than it was before.”
The Minister spoke against the practice of promising free power, which he said means that taxpayers bear the brunt of the same. “There is no such thing as free power, somebody has to pay for it. State governments which announce free power will have to pay for it from their budget. We have put in place a system that if the discoms do not pay for the electricity they consume, the electricity will get cut off automatically, without any human intervention.”
The Minister said that the government has taken care of challenges in adding capacity to renewables.
He said there was some reluctance on the part of State Electricity Regulatory Commissions in laying down renewable purchase obligations commensurate with the Renewable Purchase Obligations of the government of India.
“Amendment in Energy Conservation Act has a provision for mandatorily laying down trajectories for transition, so State Electricity Regulatory Commissions cannot set any separate trajectory, if the trajectory is not followed, there will be huge fines, so there is no question of it not being followed. And this makes sense, since the demand is bulging,” the minister added.
The Minister spoke of the importance of hydropower, in balancing the huge capacity addition being made to renewable energy. Stating that hydro energy is environment-friendly, the Minister informed that results of surveys show that landslides have come down and slopes have stabilised where hydro projects came up.
Elaborating about the policy approach of the government, the Minister said that the ministry will ask the states for the type of power they will need and design bids in line with their requirements.
“We are taking steps to lower cost of energy storage. We are going to come up with more bids using Viability Gap Funding. We believe in the environment. That is why we announced Net Zero. By 2030, we have said that 50 per cent of our capacity will be from non-fossil fuels, and in fact, it will not be just 50 per cent it will be much more; hopefully storage too would have become viable by then,” the minister. “We are actively pursuing ways and means of diversification in addressing supply chain issues and we are also interested in alternative technologies,” the Minister added.
The Minister said that countries of the developed world which give lectures on free market have started putting up huge barriers in terms of subsidies to green hydrogen, for example. “Despite the fact that we face so many barriers, we will become a champion in green hydrogen production as well. We shall continue to be the leader in energy transition.
We need to add capacity, and adding capacity by renewables with Make in India is another of our priorities,” the minister added.
Explaining challenges in capacity addition, the Minister said that the government will be changing bidding rules to provide that failing in meeting Scheduled Commercial Operation Date will result in the bidder not being able to bid for one year, and failing second time will result in not being able to bid for three years. “So, when you bid, bid carefully and with foresight and deliberation.”