UPSC Editorial Analysis

India’s march towards Green Energy Transition

GS Paper 3 - Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Renewable Energy


India is at a watershed moment in its energy journey, undergoing a tremendous transformation toward a greener and more sustainable future. The government is speeding its transition to clean renewable energy sources, motivated by the combined goals of lowering its reliance on imported fossil fuels while also achieving its obligations to decarbonization and sustainability.

As India starts on this critical transformation, it must negotiate the complicated interaction of energy security, economic competitiveness, and environmental sustainability objectives. Rising tensions between major powers and the race for technological superiority, particularly in renewable energy and electric vehicles, have serious implications for India’s green ambitions, including supply chain resilience, domestic investment climate, and national security concerns.

Significance of Green Energy Transition in India

  • Combating Climate Change & Air Pollution – India is the third greatest emitter of greenhouse gases, behind China and the United States. Furthermore, the 2022 State of Global Air Report estimates that air pollution alone caused at least 1.6 million fatalities in India in 2019. 
  • Energy Security & Import Dependence – India is expected to contribute 25% of global energy demand growth over the next two decades, leaving the country vulnerable to price volatility and geopolitical conflicts. For example, the continuing Russia-Ukraine conflict has affected global energy markets, resulting in an increase in oil prices.
  • Attracting Investments and Global Leadership – The worldwide focus on sustainability is driving enormous investment in green technologies. By shifting to green energy, India may establish itself as a clean energy leader, attracting investment and promoting technical developments.
  • Unlock Opportunities in New Technologies – The green energy revolution enables India to develop and deploy cutting-edge renewable energy technology such as energy storage systems and smart grids. This encourages innovation and propels India to the forefront of the global renewable energy revolution.

Roadblocks before India’s Green Energy Transition

  • High Dependence of Fossil Fuels – India’s energy balance remains significantly reliant on fossil fuels, with coal accounting for over 55% of the country’s electrical output. This established reliance on old energy sources complicates the shift to renewable energy. 
  • Isolated Policy and Governance – The existing two-pronged strategy, in which different ministries manage fossil fuels and renewables, lacks cooperation. This fragmented structure impedes cohesive planning, resource allocation, and accomplishing long-term objectives. 
  • Vulnerability in Green Technology – India’s reliance on imported green technology, notably China’s supremacy in solar panels, wind turbines, and crucial minerals, poses a risk. Approximately 70% of India’s solar power producing capacity is developed with Chinese-made solar equipment.
  • Grid Integration Challenges – The intermittent nature of renewable energy sources like solar and wind poses significant challenges in maintaining grid stability and ensuring a reliable and consistent power supply. 
  • Limited Energy Storage Capacity – Energy storage technologies such as pumped hydro and battery storage are still in their early phases in India. This reduces the capacity to store extra renewable energy for later use, reducing their efficacy in meeting peak demand. 
  • Water-Energy Nexus Challenges – Certain renewable energy sources, such as concentrated solar power (CSP), are water-intensive, which presents issues in India’s water-stressed regions. According to the Central Water Board, the water level in the country’s 150 key reservoirs has already plummeted to 23%, making it difficult to employ water-intensive renewable energy technology.

How to accelerate Green Energy Transition?

  • Green Entrepreneurship and Grassroot Innovation – Building a thriving environment for green social entrepreneurs. Providing startup investment, incubation assistance, and regulatory frameworks to local entrepreneurs working on new sustainable energy solutions in rural regions. 
  • Promoting Energy Democracy – Empowering communities and individuals to become active participants in the energy transition by encouraging distributed generation, energy cooperatives, and community-owned renewable energy projects. 
  • Embracing Circular Energy Economy – Incorporating circular economy ideas into renewable energy by encouraging the reuse, repurposing, and recycling of components and materials used in solar panels, wind turbines, and energy storage systems. 
  • Integration of Green Energy with Agriculture – Investigating novel alternatives such as agrivoltaics, in which solar panels are put on agricultural fields, allowing for both energy generation and crop development. 
  • Renewable Energy Storage Parks – Creating large-scale renewable energy storage parks that combine multiple storage technologies such as batteries, pumped hydro, and thermal storage to improve grid stability and increase renewable energy penetration.
  • Green Gig Economy and Skill Development – Create a thriving “Green Gig Economy” by upskilling and reskilling existing workers for renewable energy occupations. Using online platforms such as Skill India Digital Hub (SIDH) to link trained workers with freelancing opportunities in solar panel installation, wind turbine maintenance, and electric vehicle repair.

Way Forward

To propel India’s green energy transition, a multifaceted approach is essential. Strategic policy alignment across sectors, enhanced investment in indigenous technology, and strengthening of supply chains are crucial. Public-private partnerships can drive innovation, while upskilling the workforce ensures a robust green economy. Community engagement and decentralized energy solutions will democratize the transition, fostering energy independence and sustainability. By overcoming technological and infrastructural hurdles, India can lead a resilient and inclusive energy transformation, setting a global benchmark in sustainable development.

SOURCE: The Indian Express

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