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Renewables at the forefront post COP 21

It’s not very often that the entire global community shares one common concern and decides to act upon it. And when that happens, it is a landmark moment that draws commitment from almost every country. Climate change has impacted every continent and for almost 2 decades now, diplomats from the United Nations have been working towards creating an agreement that convinces countries across the world to lower planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions and thereby restrict the implications of climate change.

In early December 2015, for the first time 195 participating countries at the Conference of Parties (COP) 21 held in Paris, reached an agreement to address environmental challenges faced by all nations. The most prominent takeaway was reducing the dependence of fossil fuel and cutting greenhouse emission levels to limit the rise in global temperature to below 2°C, over pre-industrial times. A common line of argument in the Paris Agreement is that developed countries should take the lead with economy-wise reduction targets while developing nations should aspire to cut emissions over a period of time, taking into account their need for development.

Renewable energy critical to India’s growth story

A fast-developing nation, India, will need more energy in future and there is a prevailing uncertainty over its energy usage patterns and technological changes. Traditionally, international agreements drive domestic actions in countries. The Paris Agreement will result in mandatory procedures being set in and iterative processes adapted across countries, leading to greater shifts towards a low carbon future.

India has asserted to reduce the emission intensity of its GDP by a third from its 2005 levels by 2030. Renewable energy emerges as a major potential gainer to achieve this intention, as India’s target is to have nearly 40% of its power from renewable sources by 2030 from the existing 13%.

The government’s ‘Make in India’ drive, too, nudges the need for renewables. This ambitious vision cannot succeed without 24×7 power supply to all including industrial units across the country. At the moment, uninterrupted power supply is a far cry with less than normal capacity utilization of thermal power plants. The availability of energy is bound to have a rippling effect on the manufacturing sector that will create jobs for the 13 million youth population entering the job market every year. The government also recognizes that foreign investors will be reluctant to enter the territory, unless the infrastructure related bottlenecks are resolved – energy being a primary concern.

The need for renewable energy spreads across sectors and several government programme’s. 100 Smart cities, for instance, can not be developed with out renewables. Harnessing solar and wind to power these smart cities will not only reduce the burden on conventional energy sources and the power grid, but also make way for a low carbon future. Buildings account for 40 per cent of the world’s energy consumption. A smart building that uses smart technology like rooftop solar or wind has the potential to save up to 40 per cent of the energy use.

Promising times ahead

Beginning last year, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy announced plans to add 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022. This includes 100 GW of solar energy at the cost of $ 100 billion, 60 GW of wind energy, 10 GW in bio-fuel plants and the remaining in small hydel. These ambitious targets have made India a fast growing market for photovoltaics.

Hero Future Energies (HFE), part of the Hero Group, supports this vision and aims to be a major contributor and a partner towards achieving the goal of boosting power generation through clean energy resources. With a cumulative installed capacity of over 260 MW allready commmsioned and 300 MW under construction for this year across wind, solar and rooftop solar projects across 10 states in India.

The ongoing efforts initiated by the new government at the Centre has raised India to the third position outstripping Germany in the Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index (RECAI) released by Ernst and Young (E&Y) in September 2015. RECAI measures the attractiveness of renewable energy investment and deployment opportunities among countries.
For the clean energy sector, this is an opportune time with the government promoting its usage on a grand scale. It is therefore important that all stakeholders to capitalize on this and help push India’s growth trajectory even higher.

COP 21 key takeaways

  • 195 countries adopted the agreement, with 188 countries submitting their voluntary climate action plan ahead of the summit.
  • Rise in global temperature to be limited to below 2°C, over pre industrial times and to limit to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels by end of 2100.
  • $100 billion a year in climate finance for developing countries by 2020, with a commitment to further finance in the future.
  • Progress will be reviewed every five years.

Contributed by Rahul Munjal, Founder & MD, Hero Future Energies

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