India’s renewable energy efforts began in the 1970s and have gathered pace with the growing realization that renewable energy is not something thatIndia can do without.
Today, renewable energy is considered necessary for a growing India where once it was considered more of a climatechange obligation that developing countries were ‘required’ to meet.This requirement has transformed into India’s own need with the growingrealization that renewable energy has multiple advantages apart frombeing ecologically benign.
India will face an uphill task tryingto cover its energy gaps with the energy needs growing three to fourtimes over the next 20 years. This will not be made easy if India keepslooking at fossil fuels to meet its requirement, if the rising prices of these fuels are anything to go by.
Moreover, the fossil fuelshave been unable to meet the ‘energy inclusion’ needs of the Indians,where we still find infrastructural constraints blocking development infar flung rural areas or difficult to reach areas. Renewable energy taps the resource base at these areas to enable self sufficiency meet theirenergy need. There are ample examples of how small hydro electricplants, village biogas plants, etc. have ushered in this much neededchange.
The government effort needs a special mention here,because this is one factor which has kick started and will continue theengine running. The policy is two folds, one the one hand it ‘mandates’states to start increasing the share of renewable energy, on the otherhand it has introduced a number of incentives right from tax benefits,duty cuts, finance, monitoring and supervision, expert technicalassistance, to aiding technology transfer. A direct result of theseefforts has been the growing investment in this sector in India and alarge potential for development.
A number of domestic companieshave risen to take advantage of this scenario and have established their name in the international arena. A number of foreign firms haverealized that they can help bridge the technology gap that India issuffering from and have stepped in to invest in India.
Thegovernment has stepped up investment in R & D and the localcommunities and entrepreneurs have also not lagged behind ensuring thatthey ride the ‘renewable energy wave’ and India’s large pool of skilledtechnical manpower has helped in this regard. But the need to increasethis pool quite rapidly has emerged to keep it in consonance with thegrowing energy needs. Right now, some specialist positions are beingfilled in with manpower from allied infrastructural sectors.
Oneof the biggest advantages that India can boast of is the huge potentialof renewable energy in India. India is grossly underutilizing itscurrent potential, for a country with one of the largest cattlepopulations, abundant sunlight for close to 300 days in a year;innumerable untapped streams with perennial flowing water the potentialfor development are immense to say the least.
India has gainedmomentum in terms of economic growth and its strong fundamentals werevisible in the current economic recession. Asia Pacific (spurred byIndia and China) continued to be a growing consumer of energy and thistrend will rise exponentially as the global scenario normalizes.
Renewable energy definitely finds a prime place in the factors that will driveIndia’s growth in its journey from a developing to a developed country.