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Renewable Energy Can Play a Tremendous and Driving Role in India’s Growth

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RENERGY 2014, the prestigious renewable energy summit , has begun in Chennai, South India. As many as 250 companies, 200 exhibitors, 15,000 business visitors and 75 industry captains, international experts, regulatory bodies from across the globe are expected to participate in the prestigious event. Greenlichen’s Sanjeev spoke to Mr Rajneesh Khattar of UBM India, the Knowledge Partner for RENERGY 2014 about the event and what it looks to achieve.  A GREENLICHEN EXCLUSIVE:

◊        RENERGY 2014 is being held aloft as a comprehensive exhibition and thought-provoking conference on Solar, Wind Energy, Waste to Energy, Biomass and Energy Efficiency covering the broad development and advancements of Renewable Energy sector. What exactly would you list down as the advancements that have happened in this sector, of late?

The renewable energy space, as a consequence of being fairly new, is always on the path of advancement. This last year has seen the introduction of wind scheduling and forecasting regulation, allocation under phase 2 of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, introduction of energy efficiency regulations for all government buildings in Tamil Nadu, an MoU signing between India and Pakistan for a 15 MW biomass and so on.

 ◊        With a large number of stakeholders expected to be part of this year’s edition of the conference, what outcome do you expect in terms of policy making in the renewable energy segment?

Mr. Rajneesh Khattar
Mr. Rajneesh Khattar

With respect to outcomes, it would be very hard to specify anything particular but the presence of decisive organizations such as the Planning Commission, various Energy Development Agencies and many top CEOs would lead one to believe that very actionable takeaways will be gathered and one can hope for the best of these suggestions to see the light of day very soon.

◊        Though the western world has increasingly moved towards renewable energy in their day to day lives, India, in comparison, seems to be a tad hesitant to embrace technologies that would help the renewable energy segment in a big way. What reason would you attribute to this phenomenon?

It is easy to compare India with that of the developed, western countries whose per capita income is anywhere between 10-50 times that of India’s. While significant percentages of their GDP can be pledged to this cause, it must be noted that India has to balance the objectives of growth and clean growth very carefully to ensure that we stay on course to achieve our fiscal as well as environmental objectives. Also, the level of infrastructure, planning and the inherently unique issue of concentrated population could be impeding factors.

◊        How according to you can renewable energy play a role in addressing the growing energy needs of India?

Renewable energy can play a tremendous and driving role in India’s growth. Not only does it free up capital that goes towards coal and oil imports but technologies like solar and biomass can be employed on a large scale across the country simultaneously owing to their modular nature and the fact that they do not necessarily need the extension of the electricity grid to backward and rural areas, the development of which rests in the hands of large state utilities who are not always the speediest when it comes to execution. Also, while they are high on initial investment, the problem which is being addressed through capital subsidies, they require very little maintenance and running costs which essentially fixes the price of long-term electricity, an increasingly large contributor to any manufacturing or service industry.

◊        Where do you foresee the renewable energy sector in India five years down the line?

We expect renewable energy (especially wind, solar PV, Thermal) to take off sharply over the next few years factoring the inevitable rise in electricity prices over the next couple of years. Also, once hurdles have overcome with respect to biomass (supply chain), energy efficiency and waste-to-energy (segregation), we expect the rate of adoption to increase tremendously for these technologies as well. Today we are sitting at 31,000 MW of installed capacity (according to the MNRE data). One would not be considered too optimistic if we think we can double this figure in the next 5 years.

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◊        What measures would you want the administration to take so that India leads the world in this all important sector?

a)   Slow decision making, follow through on subsidy disbursal, necessary clearance from multiple departments are all administrative impediments to the growth of this sector. All these would have to be addressed to enable faster growth.

b)   Follow through on contract terms and promises has been a problem generally associated with India when it comes to foreign investors. This would also need to be fixed by guaranteeing no change in contract terms once it has been signed.

c)   Spreading awareness through such events, road shows as well as education on the long-term benefits of renewable energy over the short-term advantage of low initial costs when it comes to conventional technology would go a long way in hastening adoption.

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