By Rajiv Ranjan Mishra
Co-Chair, CII National Committee on Power 2018-19
Managing Director, CLP India
India’s announcement about International Solar Alliance (ISA) and its target of achieving 100GW of solar energy before the Paris Agreement surprised many, mainly due to its emphasis on solar. However, if one studies the way India has approached the Sun through history, one realises that the Sun has always been revered as the primary source of energy.
We also call the Sun as the Suryaya, the one who triggers activities and the Pooshne, the giver of nourishment. I do see a lot of similarities in these names and how solar energy will shape our future.
The action and ambition of ISA Member Nations have triggered lots of activities in their economies. We are seeing scaling-up of the entire solar value chain. It is also one of the major source of investments and job creation in these economies. The ISA’s engagement with various multilaterals to raise and deploy funds to scale up manufacturing and R&D is expected to improve affordability and efficiency of solar technology for its member nations. Most of these are in the Asia-Pacific and African regions, and are grappling with the challenge to improve access of affordable and clean energy to their citizens.
The Government’s ‘Make in India’ program envisages India becoming a manufacturing hub. Electricity is the much needed resource or nourishment for manufacturing and to be the globally competitive, we need to ensure access to low cost energy as it is often one of the major costs in manufacturing. Companies also face the problem of unreliable supply and volatile cost of electricity in many parts of India. We believe the Sun – the Pooshne – the giver of nourishment – will play an important role in providing the type of nourishment (electricity) that is required for ‘Make in India’ to be successful.
Today, the cost of solar power is significantly lower than utility tariffs for industrial and commercial consumers in India. Solar projects, due to their negligible variable cost, can offer fixed tariffs for 20/25 years, thus providing low cost, fixed price and zero carbon electricity over the long term.
Thanks to the lower capital cost, easy-to-operate technology and good number of sunny days, increasing number of companies in ISA regions are rapidly adopting solar and reducing their dependence on utilities. This de-clutching from utilities is another case of empowerment that solar is germinating.
I believe that this low carbon and consumer empowerment transition will continue to accelerate. The world’s first and only 100% solar powered airport in Cochin, Kerala; a 100% solar powered railway station in Guwahati, Assam; the largest floating solar farms constructed at the Banasura Sagar reservoir in Wayanad, Kerala, and various companies declaring voluntary target for renewable energy reconfirms this belief.
This blog was first published for 2nd Global RE-INVEST 2018 at re-invest.in.