Articles

291222—Indias-Commitment-to-Clean-Energy
Date | Version December 14, 2022| 2.0
Keywords ‘Renewable energy’, ‘renewable energy sources’, ‘power generation’, ‘grid electricity’, ‘sunshine countries’.
List of Legislation Referred.
  1. The Electricity Act of 2003
  2. Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (Terms and Conditions for Tariff Determination from Renewable Energy Sources) Regulations, 2017
  3. The Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2018
  4. The draft Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020
  5. The draft Renewable Energy Act, 2015
Jurisdiction India

Abstract: Despite being abundant in various renewable energy sources, the share of such sources in power generation in the country remains negligible. This write-up explores the government’s commitment to the growth of renewable energy sources through policies, schemes, and legislation.

Introduction

With a diverse source of energy that includes conventional energy sources like coal, oil, and natural gas, to renewable energy sources like solar, hydro, and wind energy, India is the third largest producer of electricity, after China and USA respectively.[1] However, the share of renewable energy remains a meagre one-fifth of the total power generation in India.[2]

As the second most populated country in the world, it’s only natural that India should have a high demand for energy consumption. To that end, the government is committed to making electricity accessible in the country. The 26th rank of the country in the World Bank’s electricity accessibility ranking from 2017 attests to the government’s efforts.[3]

Understanding the gravity of climate change, India launched a National Action Plan on Climate Change under the National Solar Mission initiative in 2008 to strive towards a gradual and sustainable shift to renewable energy sources. We may understand renewable energy as ‘grid quality electricity generated from renewable energy sources[4] where renewable energy sources are sources such as ‘small hydro, wind, solar including its integration with combined cycle, biomass, biofuel cogeneration, urban or municipal waste and other such sources as approved by the MNRE’.[5]  

Incentives and Policies

‘Electricity’ falls into the concurrent list of the Constitution of India; that is, both the Centre and State can enact laws on the subject. Governments at both the Centre and State levels have made continued efforts towards facilitative and enabling policies to promote renewable energy.

One of the primary goals remains rural electrification in the country. To achieve the same, the Union government launched the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (‘Saubhagya’) in 2017.

Villages in remote and inaccessible parts of the country need more infrastructure infrastructure to support grid electricity. To address the situation, under the Saubhagya Yojana, the government will provide houses across the country in such areas with solar photovoltaic-based systems that will operate independently for each such unit.

As a sunshine country receiving abundant solar energy potential, India is a signatory to and member of the International Solar Alliance.[6] The government has made efforts to establish India as a global leader in solar energy.

With the view to utilize such potential towards achieving rural electrification and improved accessibility of electricity for all, the Union government has launched a three-part scheme. The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM), to provide solar pumps to farmers;[7] schemes for solar study lamps and power packs; the Atal Jyoti Yojana (AJAY), for installation of solar street lights[8], reflect the positive shift of the government towards solar energy.

Today, with 39.25 GW of total installed capacity, India has the fourth highest wind installed capacity globally.[9] By providing fiscal and financial incentives that bring in the much-needed private sector investment, the government ensures the growth of wind energy for power generation in the country. Such fiscal and financial incentives include, but aren’t limited to, Accelerated Depreciation Benefits, providing for exemption on customs duty on selected components of wind electricity generators, and the scheme providing Generation Based Incentive (GBI).[10]

Legislative Framework

  • The Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2018:
    The Bill defines ‘renewable energy’, lacking in the Electricity Act of 2003. The Bill requires that stations generating power through coal set up stations for power generation through renewable energy sources. Failure to comply shall attract penalty.[11] The Bill also provides for preparing a National Renewable Energy Policy.
  • The draft Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020:
    The Bill proposes to set up an authority for resolving disputes about the enforcement of contracts regarding the sale, purchase, and transmission of electricity.
  • The draft Renewable Energy Act, 2015:
    To develop inter-ministerial coordination and to ensure expert assistance, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy released the draft Renewable Energy Act in 2015. The draft proposes the establishment of the National Renewable Energy Committee and National Renewable Energy Advisory Group to that effect.[12]

Judicial Support

While commendable for being environmentally friendly, the shift to renewable energy sources for power generation needs thorough planning. The efforts towards using cleaner energy sources need to be sustainable or it renders the objective futile.

In the Glasgow Climate Summit of 2021, India announced shifting 40% of its power generation to renewable energy sources by the year 2030, wherein 60% of such generation of power was to be via solar energy.[13] However, the government failed to take into account and plan for the electronic waste that such shift to solar energy would produce. The shift to power generation through solar energy sources at the expense of increased electronic waste renders futile the objective of environmental protection.

Recognizing the gravity of the situation, vide order dated February 14, 2022, the National Green Tribunal directed for the constitution of a Joint Committee which is to comprise of Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF & CC), and the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) to suggest an action plan for sound management of electronic waste generated by discarded solar panels.

Viewpoint

Most renewable energy sources are subject to factors like land and area. Land acquisition, and the subsequent preparation of such land for power generation from renewable energy sources, is a significant challenge for the government on the road to the growth of renewable energy sources in the country.

Power generation is a cost-heavy infrastructure that requires a reliable banking sector and adequate funding and investment from the private sector.

Internationally, at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, India ratified the Climate Convention (Paris Agreement)[14], which binds parties to the Agreement to make efforts towards reducing greenhouse emissions. However, proper legislation for renewable energy sources and subsequent power generation is required, or else the International Agreements and private sector funding and investments could prove futile.


[1] Elizabeth KJEnergy Laws in India – Hunky Dory Or Humpty Dumpty?, KNOW LAW, October 6, 2021, https://knowlaw.in/index.php/2021/10/06/energy-laws-in-india-hunky-dory-or-humpty-dumpty/.
[2] Sarita Singh & Sudarshan Varadhan, India To Step Up Gas Imports To Address Summer Power Demand, LIVEMINT, December 7, 2022,
[3] India jumps 73 spots to 26 rank in World Bank’s electricity accessibility listHINDUSTAN TIMES, May 14, 2017, https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/india-jumps-73-spots-to-26-rank-in-world-bank-s-electricity-accessibility-list/story-VzYzqXifwMHkD6CbnTLAbK.html.
[4] Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (Terms and Conditions for Tariff Determination from Renewable Energy Sources) Regulations, 2017, 2(v).
[5] Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (Terms and Conditions for Tariff Determination from Renewable Energy Sources) Regulations, 2017, 2(x).
[6] Signatory and Member Countries, International Solar Alliance, https://isolaralliance.org/membership/signatory.
[7] MNRE: YEAR END REVIEW-2020, PIB Delhi, December 31, 2020, https://www.pib.gov.in/PressReleseDetailm.aspx?PRID=1685046.
[8] MNRE: YEAR END REVIEW-2020, PIB Delhi, December 31, 2020, https://www.pib.gov.in/PressReleseDetailm.aspx?PRID=1685046.
[9] Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, https://mnre.gov.in/wind/current-status/.
[10] Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, https://mnre.gov.in/wind/current-status/.
[11] Dibyanshu, Prateek Bhandari and Prashant Singh, Renewable Energy2021, LEXOLOGY, July 2020, https://www.khaitanco.com/sites/default/files/2021-01/2021_Renewable%20Energy_India.pdf.
[12] Dibyanshu, Prateek Bhandari and Prashant Singh, Renewable Energy2021, LEXOLOGY, July 2020, https://www.khaitanco.com/sites/default/files/2021-01/2021_Renewable%20Energy_India.pdf.
[13] High Time to formulate a sound solar waste management policy: NGT takes suo motu cognizance, SCC ONLINE BLOG, July 25, 2022, https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2022/07/25/high-time-to-formulate-a-sound-solar-waste-management-policy-ngt-takes-suo-motu-cognizance/.
[14] India ratifies Paris climate pact at UN, brings its entry into force “tantalisingly close”UNITED NATIONS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT BLOGS, https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2016/10/india-ratifies-paris-climate-pact-at-un-brings-its-entry-into-force-tantalisingly-close/.

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