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Economic Survey: Renewable Energy Switch– Key To Climate-Change Mitigation

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India’s investment in research and development (R&D) to accelerate the transition to renewable energy sources would be critical to the country’s climate-change mitigation strategy, according to the Economic Survey 2022, which was issued on January 31.

It stated that the two primary pillars for mitigating action to attain the net-zero carbon goals are the transition to renewable energy sources and its storage.

The survey demonstrates India is in the process of assuring the fastest growth in renewable energy capacity and has accomplished an 18-fold increase in solar energy to 49.35 GW over the last seven years. This is despite the fact that total renewable capacity has increased by more than 2.9 times.

Renewable energy’s contribution, excluding hydro, in energy generation, remains under 11%. It would exceed 26% if big Hydro projects are included. 

Though the country aims to achieve 50% energy generation with renewables by 2030, there is a massive gap to close the power requirements, which are predicted to increase 5-6%. To put this in context, even with these figures, India’s annual coal consumption by 2030 is expected to be 1.5 billion tonnes, nearly double the current levels, to fulfil the country’s entire power demands.

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According to the report, Europe’s energy dilemma highlights the need of maintaining a diverse mix of energy sources, with fossil fuels playing a significant role.

Green Energy Corridor (GEC) initiatives have been undertaken, which attempts to synchronize electricity generated by renewable sources such as solar and wind with traditional power plants in the grid.

The report notes that just 5.87 GW of rooftop solar has been installed to date, while reaffirming the objective of 40 GW by December 2022.

In addition, about 50 solar parks with a combined capacity of 33.82 GW are projected to be built by 2024 under the Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects (UMREPP) and big solar park schemes.

A strategy is being implemented by government organizations to establish 12 GW of Grid-Connected Solar PV Power Projects. 

The survey states that around 4.25 GW of wind-solar projects has been bid out so far, with another 1.2 GW under consideration.

It underscores the need for greater energy storage planning, better technologies creation and gaining more control over supply lines. The PLI plan for solar manufacturing and battery technologies are highlighted as important milestones in this direction.

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Unlike typical fuel-intensive energy sources, transitioning from fossil fuel-based energy to clean energy with large battery storage would be a mineral-intensive game.

The study predicted that India will expand at an 8-8.5% annual pace in 2022-23, but warned of rising oil costs, surging inflation, and rising interest rates in the United States.

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