Energy for sustainable Growth
Last week, on March 4 to be precise, the Sectoral Group on Resources comprising of Ministries of Power; Petroleum & Natural Gas; New & Renewable Energy; Coal; Mines; External Affairs; and Environment, Forest & Climate Change organized a Webinar on “Energy for Sustainable Growth” to discuss the initiatives of the Government of India in the energy and resources sector which have been announced in Budget 2022 and to elicit ideas and suggestions for effective implementation of these initiatives.
The webinar started with Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the plenary session. The Prime Minister said that ‘Energy for Sustainable Growth’ not only resonates with the Indian tradition but is a pathway to achieve future needs and aspirations. He said that sustainable growth is possible only through sustainable energy sources. The Prime Minister reiterated his commitment made at Glasgow to reach Net Zero by 2070. He also mentioned his vision of LIFE pertaining to an environmentally sustainable lifestyle. India is providing leadership in global collaborations like the International Solar Alliance.
He also talked of the target of achieving 500 gigawatt non-fossil energy capacity and achieving 50 per cent of installed energy capacity through non-fossil energy by 2030. Referring to the recently announced National Hydrogen Mission, the Prime Minister said India can become a hub of green hydrogen given its inherent advantage in the form of abundant renewable energy power.
He emphasized that along with energy production, energy saving is equally important for sustainability. Stressing the need to prioritize energy efficient products, the Prime Minister gave the example of promotion of LED bulbs at large scale. He said that first the government brought down the cost of LED bulbs by promoting production and then 37 crore LED bulbs were distributed under the Ujala scheme. This has led to saving of forty eight thousand million Kilowatt Hour electricity and saving of about 20 thousand crore rupees in the electricity bills of poor and middle class families. Furthermore, annual carbon emission saw a decline of 4 crore tonnes. He also talked about the future upsurge in the energy demand in India and underlined the criticality of transition towards renewable energy.
The webinar was part of the new practice of discussion and dialogue with the stakeholders before and after the budget. The objective was to brainstorm with experts from the public and private sectors, academia and industry and identify strategies on how best to move forward towards implementation of various issues under different sectors. The webinar had sessions on different themes of relevance and witnessed participation of government officials of various ministries and state governments and industry representatives.
The themes identified for the webinar were:
1. Developing Energy Storage for RE Expansion: The session was chaired by Shri Alok Kumar, Secretary, MoP. The session had five-panel speakers – Dr. Rahul Walawalkar, President, India Energy Storage Alliance; Mr. K. Sreekant, CMD, PGCIL; Mr. Anil Kumar Chalamalasetty, Chief Executive and Managing Director, GREENKO; Mr. Ranjit Gupta, CEO, Azure Power; and Mr. Rajesh Lakhoni, CMD, Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited (TANGEDCO).
The stakeholders emphasized on the aspects of mandating storage obligation, ascertaining the percentage of energy storage to be part of RE development (RE + storage) tender, developing comprehensive energy storage policy, mandating energy storage in transmission planning and promoting large scale demand aggregation.
The stakeholders also highlighted the need for innovative, low cost and long tenor financing including fiscal incentives such as tax concession, accelerated depreciation, etc.
2. Lifestyle for Environment (LIFE): The key areas covered in the session were Energy Conservation: ESCO Model, Promoting Electric Mobility: Battery Swapping, Circular Economy. The session was moderated by Shri Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog. The five panelists were Mr. Abhay Bakre, Director General, BEE; Mr. Chetan Maini, Co-Founder and Chairman, SUN Mobility; Mr. Anil Chaudhry, MD and CEO, Schneider Electric India; Mr. Sanjay Mehta, President, Material Recycling Association of India; and Mr. P. Rajendra Cholan, Managing Director, BESCOM, Karnataka.
The panelists emphasized on a number of points to enable the transition towards LIFE. These include behavioural measures for promoting adoption of Energy Efficient appliances and clean cooking, use of sustainable transport and construction and retrofitting of efficient buildings. Developing model contracts, protocols for M&V baselining, and strengthening capabilities of energy professionals/ auditors to harness full potential of energy savings through the ESCO model were also highlighted.
Other recommendations included standardizing battery swapping mechanisms, policy harmonization for the development of new and innovative business models for battery swapping, promotion of circular economy etc.
3. Coal Gasification: The session Moderator was Dr. Anil Jain, Secretary, Ministry of Coal. The panelists were Mr. V.K. Saraswat, Member, NITI Aayog; Prof. Anjan Ray, Director, Indian Institute of Petroleum; Mr. S.N. Yadav, Managing Director, Talcher Fertilizer Limited; Mr. V.R. Sharma, Managing Director, Jindal Steel and Power Limited; Mr. Atanu Mukherjee, CEO & President, MN Dastur & Co.; and Mr. Nalin Singhal, MD BHEL.
The stakeholders recommended supporting coal gasification through increased availability of coal for gasification projects, development of indigenous gasification technology on commercial scale, development of indigenous technology for production of methanol from syn gas, suitable policy provision for marketing of indigenous product derived from coal gasification, financial assistance to gasification projects at initial stage, taking up of all business models for setting up of projects.
4. Promoting Biomass as an Alternative Energy Source: The session coverage included Compressed Biogas, Co-firing of pellets, and Ethanol blending. The session was chaired by Shri Pankaj Jain, Secretary, MoPNG. The panelists were Dr. S.S.V. Ramakumar, Director (R&D and P&BD), Indian Oil Corporation; Mr. Ashish Kumar, Managing Director, Verbio India; Mr. Suvarat Khanna, Director, Vere Renewable Energy; Mr. Sumit Sarkar, CEO, Chhattisgarh Biofuel Development Authority; and Mr. Sudip Nag, Mission Director, National Mission on Use of Biomass in Thermal Power Plants.
The session covered pertinent issues around predictable and transparent CBG pricing, ensuring simultaneous sale of CBG and CNG from CBG and CNG stations, withdrawal of Central Financial Assistance (CFA) on CBG impacted viability of CBG plants, low cost financing of CBG plants, requirement of guaranteed off-take and minimum off-take price of Fermented Organic Manure based on quality etc.
5. Agro and Farm Forestry: The session was chaired by Shri Chandra Prakash Goyal, Director General of Forests, MoEF&CC. The panelists were Mr. Arun Singh Rawat, Director General, ICFRE; Mr. R K Sapra, Forestry Expert; Mr. Suneel Pandey, Divisional Head-Plantation, ITC; Mr. Sajjan Bhajanka, Chairman, Federation of Indian Plywood Industries; and Mr. Jagdish Chandra, PCCF and HoFF, Govt of Haryana.
The panelists emphasised the number of points for greater adoption of agroforestry in India. These include pan India amendment / simplification or exemption in the tree felling and transit rules, strengthening institutional support by creating Agroforestry board, lowering GST on timber so that it can compete with MSP supported agricultural crop, development specific agroforestry and Trees Outside Forest models based on different agro climatic regions, framework for accreditation of private nurseries for providing quality planting stock etc.
6. Scaling up of Renewable Energy: The session focused on Solar Manufacturing and Hydrogen Mission. The session was chaired by Shri Indu Shekhar Chaturvedi, Secretary, MNRE. The panel speakers were Mr. Gurdeep Singh, CMD, NTPC Ltd.; Mr. Anil Sardana, MD & CEO, Adani Transmission Ltd.; Mr. Sumant Sinha, MD, Renew Power; Mr. Pashupathy Gopalan, Director, Ohmium; Mr. Tulsi Tanti, Chairman, Suzlon Energy.
Some of the recommendations of the stakeholders included indigenisation of the entire value chain across renewable energies, extending indigenous manufacturing for solar modules to the entire value chain, ISTS-level energy banking of Green hydrogen production plants will require, examining the issues of e-reverse bidding process, focusing on decentralised renewables and mini grids etc.
In his concluding Address, the Union Minister of Power, New and Renewable Energy Shri RK Singh stated that India is preparing for a future wherein the key imperatives will be environment and energy independence. The suggestions shared by the stakeholders and the consequent action plan that will emerge through this webinar will enable us to embark upon this future. In this context, the Minister noted that the themes of Energy Storage, Lifestyle for Environment (LIFE), incorporating behavioural changes of consumers for energy efficiency and conservation; EV Mobility, Battery Swapping, ESCO etc., Coal Gasification; Hydrogen Mission; Agro and Farm Forestry etc. are essential to drive this transition. He stated that there is a need to further develop and expand penetration of ESCO models in the housing sector and to cover the maximum number of the buildings under the ECBC and Eco-Niwas Samhita. Also, Architecture Colleges / Architecture Associations of India may develop curriculum incorporating the features and design of ECBC / Eco-Niwas Samhita for future buildings. There is also a need to implement smarter power systems for the new buildings. In this regard he called upon the Bureau of Energy Efficiency and CPWD to work together in this endeavour. The key actions that have emerged will be put together and closely followed-up to drive a timely and effective implementation of the Union Budget announcements for 2022.