India to double renewable energy capacity in 5 yrs: PM

Clean energy ministerial meet expected to evolve financing mechanisms

By Ankur Paliwal
Published: Thursday 18 April 2013

India plans to double its renewable energy capacity in the next five years, said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in his inaugural address at the fourth Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) in Delhi on April 17. The two-day event is being held for the first time in India.  

"It is proposed to double the renewable energy capacity in our country from 25,000 MW in 2012 to 55,000 MW by 2017. This would include exploiting non-conventional energy sources such as solar, wind power and energy from biomass," he said. India’s wind potential in both onshore and offshore areas is also being re-assessed to draw a long-term plan for exploiting this source of energy.

Admitting that renewable energy is expensive Singh also stressed on the need for suitable financing solutions.  For the moment, green energy is not viable on its own without subsidy or regulatory incentives, and market forces alone will not provide sufficient financing in this environment unless risks of policy change are appropriately addressed, Singh said. The high level negotiations in the meeting are expected to evolve some mechanisms to address this problem.

Singh also made it clear that the global negotiations on climate change mitigation and adaptation has been “painfully slow” as rich nations are shying away from taking responsibility. "The industrialised nations have high per capita incomes, which gives them the highest capacity to bear the burden. They are technically most advanced, and to that extent best placed to provide workable solutions not only for themselves but for the whole world. Unfortunately, progress in these negotiations is painfully slow. The goal of stabilising global temperatures at acceptable levels is nowhere in sight," he remarked.

Solar energy research institute on anvil

He also talked about setting up a national solar energy institute, which would be a global level R&D centre. This could draw upon international cooperation to enable the creation of more affordable and convenient solar power systems and promote innovations. It is expected that this institute will be functional by 2015.

But some environment non-profits found the prime minister’s address disappointing. “His statements show no clear ambition and is a repeat of old promises on clean energy development,” said Abhishek Pratap, senior campaigner with Greenpeace. “It is good to see that the government is targeting to double the nation's renewable energy capacity in the next five years. However, this vision lacks any clear policy pathway to achieve those targets,” he added.  There was no mention of integrating renewables like solar and biomass in the rural electrification programmes like Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY).

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