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Sansad TV: Perspective- Clean Energy Transition

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Introduction:

The global power sector is about to enter a new era of falling fossil generation, as coal, oil and gas are pushed out of the grid by a record expansion of wind and solar power. This as per a new analysis by climate think tank Ember which says wind and solar power reached a record 12% of global electricity generation last year, driving up the overall share of low-carbon electricity to almost 40% of total generation. The think tank forecasts that by the end of 2023, more than 100% of the growth in electricity demand will be covered by low-carbon sources. For the world to stay on track for its climate targets, global electricity generation needs to be completely decarbonized by 2040.

Clean energy:

  • It is energy that comes from renewable, zero emission sources that do not pollute the atmosphere when used, as well as energy saved by energy efficiency measures.
  • In other words, it is the energy derived from renewable, zero-emissions sources (“renewables”), as well as energy saved through energy efficiency (“EE”) measures.
  • Clean energy is energy gained from sources that do release air pollutants, while green energy is energy derived from natural sources.
  • There is a degree of crossover between clean energy and green or renewable energy sources, but they are not exactly the same.
  • The perfect clean energy mix occurs where green energy meets renewable energy, such as with solar energy and wind energy.
  • Clean energy Sources:
  • Sunlight
  • Wind power
  • Hydro or water power
  • geothermal power
  • Biomass

Increasing accessibility to clean energy:

  • To bring clean fuel in rural areas the Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala Yojana, should be complemented by: Setting up of biomass pelletising units; and distribution of ‘efficient biomass chullahs’.
  • On the agricultural front, solar irrigation pump distribution target must be stepped up and financed through credit support from NABARD and government subsidy.
  • The potential non-conventional energy sources must be explored and researched to make them technologically economical and accessible, like geothermal energy, tidal energy etc.

Prospects for India:

  • NITI Aayog and Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) have released Towards a Clean Energy Economy: Post-Covid-19 Opportunities for India’s Energy and Mobility Sectors report.
  • The report states that India’s transport sector can save 1.7 gigatonnes of cumulative carbon dioxide emissions.
  • It can also avoid about 600 million tonnes of oil equivalent in fuel demand by 2030.
  • A diverse clean energy supply also reduces the dependence on imported fuels and the associated financial and environmental costs this incurs.
  • Renewable clean energy also has inherent cost savings, as there is no need to extract and transport fuels, such as with oil or coal, as the resources replenish themselves naturally.
  • Renewable and clean energy are growth sectors as the world begins to move away from fossil fuels, meaning that more opportunities will arise in areas ranging from eMobility to power generation and storage.
  • The expertise that comes with developing these next generation power solutions can be of benefit of those that attain it, offering work and contracts to those who are slow to take up clean energy.

Challenges:

  • Availability of Power: One of the biggest concerns in the field of renewable energy is power generation depending on natural resources that are uncontrollable by humans.
  • Power Quality Issues: Consistently high power quality is needed to ensure stability and high efficiency of the network. It can lead to high costs and equipment failure. Power quality problems include frequency disorder, voltage/current harmonics, low power factor, voltage variation and transmission lines transits.
  • Resource location: Most renewable energy plants that share their energy with the grid require large areas of space. In most cases, renewable energy sources are dictated by location which can be off-putting to users.
  • Information Barrier: While this area is improving, there is a lack of information and awareness about the benefits and need of renewable energy. Investment and capital allowances have been made available for the implementation of renewable energies.
  • Cost Issue: The high initial cost of installation is one of the major hurdles in the development of renewable energy.

Way forward for India:

  • India needs to identify strategic opportunities for economic recovery in the short, medium, and long terms that can translate challenges posed by the pandemic into clean energy transition opportunities.
  • Opportunities in the transport sector include making public transport safe, enhancing and expanding non-motorized transport infrastructure and making India an automotive export hub.
  • In the power sector, opportunities include improving the electricity distribution business and its operations, enabling renewables and distributed energy resources, and promoting energy resilience and local manufacturing of renewable energy and energy storage technologies.
  • To support growing clean energy, the expansion of transmission infrastructure, for both intra and inter-state should be strengthened.
  • Investment in R&D programmes, as well as human resource development is necessary in addition to local content requirements
  • Strengthen the institutional structure to facilitate effective flow of central financial assistance. It is also important to strengthen institutional structure to monitor implementation of Government policies and programmes.

Conclusion:

  • Clean energy appears to be the future for the power needs of humanity across the globe as reliance of fossil fuels continues to diminish.
  • As the drive towards clean, green and renewable energy continues to advance, the cost will fall and work will be created to develop and install these new power solutions.
  • More and more people are recognising the environmental, societal and economic benefits of clean energy and, as more cities, states and nations sign up to a green power agenda, this will continue to advance.