NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday stressed on India’s aims to achieve 50% of its installed energy capacity through non-fossil fuels by 2030 in a bid to promote sustainability and reduce the country’s dependence on imported oil.
His remarks have come at a time when international crude oil prices soared to a10-year high because of the Russia-Ukraine war and the reluctance of producers to raise output.
Speaking at a webinar on ‘Energy for Sustainable Growth’, the Prime Minister reiterated his commitment made at Glasgow to reach ‘Net Zero’ by 2070 and mentioned his vision of ‘LIFE’ pertaining to lifestyle for environment.
“Whatever targets India has set for itself, I do not see them as a challenge, but as an opportunity. India has been working on this vision for the last few years and the same has been taken forward at a policy level in this year’s budget,” he said. The budget on February 1 announced ₹19,500 crore outlay for high-efficiency solar module manufacturing, which will help in making India a global hub for manufacturing of green energy components.
Addressing the ninth post-budget webinar for expeditious implementation of various proposals announced in this year’s Union budget, the Prime Minister said India’s target is to achieve 500 Gigawatt non-fossil energy capacity and 50% of installed energy capacity through non-fossil energy by 2030. “Sustainable growth is possible only through sustainable energy sources,” he said.
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1 announced “energy transition and climate action” as one of the major goals of the central government, which is part of its 25-year vision when India will achieve 100 years of Independence.
The Prime Minister spoke about the future upsurge in energy demand in India and underlined the criticality of transition towards renewable energy. He listed a series of steps in this direction, such as clean-cooking in about 250 million households, solar panels on canals, solar tree in household gardens or balconies to achieve 15% energy for the household from such solar-trees. “The world is witnessing depletion of all types of natural resources. In such a scenario, circular economy is the demand of the hour and we have to make it a mandatory part of our lives,” he said.
India is the third-largest consumer of imported oil as it imports about 85% crude it processes. The government is worried about rising oil prices as it has an inflationary impact. Although domestic prices of petrol and diesel have been frozen since November 4, bleeding state-run fuel retails may raise pump prices of auto fuels after assembly elections conclude next week.
Due to surging international oil prices, India’s import bill could be quite high compared to even the pre-Covid period. According to official data, India’s total crude import bill in the first 10 months of the current financial year has already surged by over 99% at $94.3 billion. India’s total crude oil import bill in 2020-21 was only $62.2 billion due to a slump in economic activities after the pandemic hit the country in March 2020. However, in 2019-20, prior to the pandemic, the import bill was $101.4 billion.
Referring to the recently announced National Hydrogen Mission, he said India can become a hub of green hydrogen given its inherent advantage in the form of abundant renewable energy power. He also pointed towards the challenge of energy storage, which has received significant attention in the budget.
“Provisions have also been made in this year’s budget regarding ‘battery swapping’ policy and inter-operability standards. These will reduce the problems faced in the use of electric vehicles in India,” he said.
The Prime Minister said energy saving is equally important for sustainability. “You should work on how to make more energy efficient ACs [air conditioners], efficient heaters, geysers, ovens in our country,” he said.
Coal gasification is a clean alternative to coal, PM Modi said. The budget has announced four pilot projects for coal gasification, which will help in firming up technical and financial viability of these projects.
PM asked his officials and the industry to promote ethanol blending, as the budget introduced differential excise duty for unblended fuel. In her budget speech, Sitharaman said, “Blending of fuel is a priority for this government. To encourage the efforts for blending of fuel, unblended fuel shall attract an additional differential excise duty of ₹2 per litre from October 1, 2022.”
Earlier, explaining the purpose of the webinar, new and renewable energy secretary Indu Shekhar Chaturvedi said that it aims for an expeditious implementation of budget provisions in a coordinated way. Seven ministries that participated in the webinar were ministries of power; petroleum; coal; new and renewable energy; mines; external affairs; and environment, forest and climate change.
“Over the past few years, India has achieved significant milestones in the energy sector, such as the ‘Har Ghar Bijli’ (electricity to every household) scheme, Chaturvedi said. Solar energy capacity has been raised from 2.5 Gigawatts in 2014 to 52 Gigawatts, and solar tariff, which was around ₹12-13 per unit about a decade ago, is now around ₹2.15 per unit, he added.