Recent time witnessed Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) rising the upper tariff ceiling for its 10 GW of interstate transmission system (ISTS) connected solar photovoltaic power projects. This can be considered as a move towards the right path, factoring in lack of developer interest in recent solar projects. Although, Indian solar initiatives have earned commendation for making incredible growth trajectories (5 GW solar capacity in 2015, 10 GW in 2016 and ~24 GW in 2018), policy interventions are needed to protect and prioritize the solar industry for continued success.
The formation of NCEF or National Clean Energy Fund was indeed the right step towards supporting India’s green energy initiatives. The idea was introduced by the Government of India in 2010-11. And upon receiving huge support, it quickly became India’s carbon tax, on coal to generate fund for research and financing clean energy technology. Currently, the name of NCEF has been changed to National Clean Energy and Environment Fund (NCEEF) to support initiatives for clean environment development.
It should be noted that at the beginning, tax imposed on coal on behalf of NCEF was INR 50 per tonne, which eventually ascended to INR 400 per tonne in 2016-17. It is fairly easy to glean from the context that NCEF could have been identified as a very able supporting column for nascent green energy infrastructure of India.
Daily global CO2 emission level currently stands at 406.47 ppm (parts per million globally). Taking the hints from deteriorating environment, and identifying fossil fuel generation and consumption to be the primary reason for CO2 increase, the world is quickly adopting green energy. Since, global transport system plays a major role in adding to the CO2 levels, it is very important to bring the green energy utilization in transport systems as soon as possible. Since Solar energy has gained world wide acceptance due to its feasibility, easy to install, and reliability, solar energy growth and EV growth have become interconnected.
EV and Solar Energy Growth are Interconnected
Since India has made huge strides in renewable industry development, the country is considered to be an ideal platform for Electric Vehicle (EV) market growth. It is important to highlight that, 10 cities from top 20 most polluted cities in the world are in India, and a third of PM (particulate matter) pollution in India is from transportation sources. Additionally, in 2015-16 India’s crude oil imports are more than 80% amounting to $81.5 billion, and transport sector is the biggest consumer of crude oil with usage of 70% of diesel and 99.6% of petrol. Therefore, focusing on EV market growth depending on renewable energy (especially solar) would help India save billions of forex outflow, and reduce dependency in fossil fuels.
Continuously depleting natural resources pose a great threat to the world as its population continues to rise. Starvation, lack of energy, and important requirements to sustain life throughout the world has made it obvious that current consumption and production patterns are unsustainable. Focus on manufacturing and management of resources is extremely important to maintain life on Earth; otherwise the threat surrounding us would lead to further inequities. Management of lifecycle of resources, from their extraction to consumption and eventually disposal of waste has to be efficient to create and maintain sustainability of life as we know it.
Although, worldwide changes are being seen that surface necessities and align with the requirements of sustainability, not always they lead to expected results. And since managing resources is a global commitment- countries failing to create, establish and follow the process result in limiting global environment improvement. The only way to remedy the situation is cross country collaboration and development of understanding between policy and businesses within a country.
How Can Resource Efficiency Help?
Developing policies and business practices to have minimal impact on environment can also lead to adoption of resource efficient practices that can help in integrating circular economy methods. Reuse of waste would gain efficiency and responsible management system would allow countries to save millions and billions by reducing expenses and import requirement.
Government of India’s step towards solarizing the country is indeed an inspiring and decisive step to revolutionize energy generation and usage. The country has also announced plans of embedding resource efficiency and circular economy in initiatives and polices such as- Smart Cities, Swach Bharat, Zero Effect-Zero Defect Scheme, Ganga Rejuvenation Mission, Make in India etc, which will save resources and expenses.
How Is India Working Towards Resource Management?
NITI Aayog has joined hands with European Union delegation and released strategy on resource efficiency, which is supposed to help develop circular economy that will translate into sustainable development of the country. The strategy showcases action plans involving-
- Manufacturing capacity development
- Institutional development
- Sharing of best practices
- Development of an indicator monitoring framework
- R&D and Technology Development
- Waste-exchange platform
These processes will support sustainable public procurement, development of industrial clusters, and information sharing & awareness generation, saving money and leading to a better developed country.
However, to operationalize strategies for resource efficiency, India needs to create and follow sectoral policies in investment, education, innovation, trade, and skills development that can support resource efficiency development.
Why Policies Are Needed?
Policies are needed to facilitate the resource efficiency processes within the management supply chain of businesses. Strategies cannot deliver result unless businesses develop resource management processes within their existing framework. In order to do that, businesses often need financial support to accept and adopt large scale efforts towards waste management and efficient resource handling. Lack of technological infrastructure also hinders businesses in following the strategies prescribed the Government. In such cases, policies facilitating support can help. It is also important to improve the economic analysis of efficient resource management.
The Way Forward
Evolving consumerism has urged rapid changes in product and service generation. India has done a marvellous job in energy generation and management by selecting solar. However, rethinking the resource management processes and effectively incorporating processes that will focus on resource usage, increasing exports, and reducing forex outflow is needed.
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In development of a country, using and protecting the natural resources plays a major part. To change the climate from going through drastic negative changes the world has readily accepted solar. However, it is also important for a country to focus towards protecting its water resources to support its economic growth while ensuring sustainability. Within Asia, India and its south Asian neighbours are blessed with huge reserves of natural water. However, due to lack of an infrastructure to distribute the water carefully and equally, the countries still suffer from scarcity of water from time to time. Statistics show that availability of water per capita in India has reduced by almost 70% since 1950. And while move towards industrialisation and economic development has gained importance, population growth and inefficiency in water use has resulted into water scarcity in regions.
Research statistics show that increasing stress and degradation of climate mainly due to fossil fuel combustion, is affecting economic growth of South Asia, and seems to be leading to prolonged water scarcity in the near future.
The United Nation has recognized protection and efficient use of water as an important goal to establish and maintain sustainable development. The World leaders are starting to understand that setting a dedicated global goal for water is a necessity now, because water is a global resource and even if one country is left out of the development process, it will have negative impacts on the sustainability of the climate, which the whole world shares.
The developed and developing countries are banding together to create an international cooperation for saving the water resources for the global good. Information, methods are being shared and investments are being made to support better water harvesting, wastewater treatment, recycling, and sanitation-related activities and programmes. Sustainable Development Goals of United Nations have set a timeline of 2030 to incorporate changes that can assure climate sustainability and allow developing and developed countries alike to initiate economic development initiatives without hindrance.
Joining Hands and Resolving Disputes
There are 12 major river systems and a number of small rivers that go through India. And as the country is agrarian in nature, the demand of water is very high. Lack of technical competence to efficiently use the water doesn’t seem to satisfy the requirements thus creating an unnecessary demand for more of it. The similar scenario is seen in the neighbourhood countries of India, which leads to disputes for claim on the water.
India is moving towards the right way by choosing solar. Renewable energy shift can revolutionize India’s energy scenario and bring in socio-economic growth. However, to complete the transition, India also needs to focus on its use of natural resources as well. Developing an efficient water management is very important to ensure water security and also to share the natural resource to other countries.
Inter-sectoral water cooperation is also necessary as it can help the country understand the best way to divide the water into different sectors such as- Agriculture, Construction, Mining, Energy and Industry. Efficient usage and water protection rights will stop it from being misused or wasted.
Solar Has Made It Easier
Conventional energy generation process uses a lot of water (1.90 liters/kWh for Coal, and 1.60 liters/kWh for oil, and 2.30 liters/kWh for generating energy from Nuclear). And besides using up water, the kilotons of toxic waste produced by the conventional power plants annually contaminate rest of the water sources.
In this scenario, choosing solar as the mainstream energy source can win the battle for climate improvement, as it is a water free energy generation system. Additionally, solar can make it easier to send water to the cities, states or even countries which are in need of it by reducing cost of pumping water through solar water pumping solutions.
So, it seems that India is standing upon the perfect opportunity to not just better its socio-economic progress, impacting climate a positive way, the country can inspire other developing and developed countries to establish sustainability through protecting and efficient use of natural resources.
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