Climate change the primary concern:
- As the severity of the impacts of our misuse of natural resources mount, the issue of climate change is of prime concern.
- Communities globally are beginning to demand policies and actions that will yield a more habitable environment.
- It is no longer about preserving the planet for future generations, but rather making it liveable for us.
India’s energy transition
So far government led:
- India is undergoing an energy transition, with a fast-growing share of renewable energy not just in deployed capacity (21% of total power capacity) but also in electricity generation (9% of total electricity generated and consumed).
- A bulk of this clean energy development has been through government-led commissioning.
Consumer demand will define the pace of transition:
- While large-scale deployments are likely to continue, it is demand for consumer-linked solutions such as rooftop systems, electric vehicles, and distributed renewable energy applications, which would define the pace and timeliness of energy transition.
Energy transition must create value to get community support:
- For consumers and communities to become drivers of energy transition, the incorrect perception of clean energy being an expensive prerogative of the rich needs to be debunked.
- The transition needs to create value for people for them to lead it.
Benefits of energy transition:
- Savings on energy bills:
- Transitioning to cleaner energy results in savings.
- Researchers at the Council on Energy, Environment and Water find that households can save 95% on their electricity bills (over a 25-year period) if they owned a solar rooftop system.
- Even those who do not own their house or have access to a roof, can save as much as 35% by buying power from a community solar rooftop PV plant.
- Self-reliance for energy needs:
- Energy transition gives communities agency to boost productivity through enhanced self-reliance.
- In the farm sector, clean energy has the potential to mechanise irrigation, fertiliser application, seed-sowing and cold chain. This could reduce input costs and improve agricultural productivity.
- Micro Enterprises:
- Similarly, more than 4 million rural micro-enterprises suffer from lack of reliable electricity supply.
- With energy transition, renewable energy-powered energy-efficient machines could help meet existing demand and boost rural businesses.
- The market size of the opportunity to support livelihoods in rural India with clean energy innovation exceeds $50 billion, in addition to productivity benefits accruing the farm and MSME sectors.
- Job creation:
- The renewable energy sectors create jobs, direct, indirect and induced, which are additional.
- The workforce directly employed in the Indian renewable energy sector grew seven-fold in the past three years, rising from over 13,800 workers in 2015-16 to nearly 100,000 workers in 2018-19.
- Demand-driven sectors like solar rooftops create many more jobs than utility-scale solar and wind energy due to their decentralised nature.
- Over 38,600 workers were employed for just 3.8 GW of installed rooftop solar, as compared to around 37,900 workers for 26.2 GW of utility-scale solar and over 23,300 workers for 35.6 GW of wind energy.
- Similarly, if there is significant domestic manufacturing of EVs, there is a large jobs opportunity.
- Other benefits:
- These direct benefits are supplemented by induced benefits such as reduction in air pollution and reduced healthcare burden on the government
- Communities value these benefits, but lack of awareness, targeted business models, financing structures and behavioural nudges have kept them from becoming a driver of the transition.
- Energy transition offers an opportunity. It is the people of this country that will determine if they participate and benefit from it, or watch from the sidelines and resist the change.
GS Paper III: Economy