Global warming and climate change induced by greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and ozone, have been major challenges globally. Whether it is unpredictable rainfall, unforeseen cyclones, or heat waves, all such natural calamities impact economies and even the vulnerable economically-weaker sections of the population. Ratul Puri, Chairman of Hindustan Power Projects, shares that the manufacturing, agriculture and services sectors are affected explicitly due to such unexpected weather and climatic changes. As per an RBI study, the GDP growth of a country is associated with its temperature and humidity levels. The ‘State of the Climate (SoC) in Asia 2020’ report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) points out that India suffered an average annual loss of around $87 billion in 2020. This was primarily due to extreme weather conditions, such as tropical cyclones, floods, and droughts. Such unpredictable weather changes lead to loss of life and displace millions, come up with disaster relief expenditures and even significantly impact climate-reliant sectors like agriculture, health, water, energy, etc.
Ratul Puri states that energy is majorly responsible for greenhouse gas emissions leading to extreme weather changes. This puts forth the need to transition to clean energy sources. With this change, the Earth will remain cool, livelihoods will be safe, and eventually, there will be food and water security in the country.
UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 7 (SDG-7) highlights the need to prioritize clean and affordable energy to ensure development and innovation at the global level. Reducing carbon footprints has now become a race for global leaders. And Ratul Puri shares that India is also not far behind. Our country, too, is making concerted efforts to reduce emissions significantly. Aligned with this objective, Hon’ble Prime Minister, Sh. Narendra Modi announced at the COP26 Summit in Glasgow that India will increase its non-fossil energy capacity to 500 GW to meet 50% of its energy requirements through renewable energy sources by 2030.
Combining renewable energy and thermal power
Ratul Puri aptly points out that it is expected that conventional energy (the majority) and non-conventional energy (the fast-growing sector) will complement each other and fulfill the country’s energy requirements together. In a bid to achieve our renewable energy (RE) goals, last year, the government took a relatively progressive step by allowing thermal power companies to bundle along with RE and further supply it to power distribution companies (discoms) under existing Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). The cost of renewable energy is comparatively lesser than that of thermal energy. Hence, the benefit of bundling the two sources will be shared between the generators, distributors, and/or other procurers in a 50:50 ratio. Ratul Puri shares that since RE will be balanced with thermal energy, discoms would no longer have to acquire a separate capacity for balancing renewable energy now. The government had proposed bundling RE with thermal power earlier in 2020 for a round-the-clock power supply. However, the provision to supply bundled RE under existing PPAs was added later.
Enhancing efficiencies across sectors
Sustainable energy benefits people and the entire planet and even contributes to all sectors’ growth. It further helps purify air, boost employment and improve people’s health quotients. Sustainable energy also plays a major role in fueling the country’s development. The renewable energy sector possesses the potential to generate jobs and employ around one million people by 2030. According to a joint study by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and Skill Council for Green Jobs (SCGJ), many of these new jobs will be created by small-scale renewable energy projects.
Talking about the agriculture sector, Ratul Puri further shared that the transition to sustainable energy helps improve farm incomes, soil, air quality, and reduces dependency on polluting fossil fuels. It also minimizes the impact on wildlife, water quality and other environmental resources and even promotes the creation of stable growing farm communities.
MSMEs are one of the largest employment sectors and contribute nearly 30% to the country’s GDP through domestic and international trade. Considering they significantly impact the economy, the adoption of clean energy by MSMEs will further help a large part of the country adopt the same. Currently, green energy is one of the cleanest and most affordable ways to cater to the growing energy needs, especially in the services sector. Ratul Puri shares that it is heartwarming to witness a gradual decline in clean energy costs over the years. As per a 2021 report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), costs for renewable technologies continued to decrease rapidly year-on-year. Concentrating solar power (CSP) was reduced by 16%, onshore wind by 13%, and solar PV by 7%. These winning value propositions further necessitate the need to clear our paths to carbon neutrality.
Ratul Puri is of the opinion that the amalgamation of renewable energy with thermal power to bridge existing gaps will help cater to the growing energy demand. Additionally, this association will also aid in creating a clean, green and safe world for future generations.