Emphasising that the energy crisis facing the world currently has consequences, Power Minister RK Singh said the high price of fossil fuels such as coal and crude oil is making renewable energy (RE) more economically viable. At the Sydney Energy Forum (Sydney, Australia) on Wednesday, Singh said cartelisation and greed were among the key reasons, besides the Russia-Ukraine war, for the high prices of fossil fuels, which is also hastening the end of the dominance of fossil fuels. “But what is happening around the world (energy crisis) also has consequences. And the consequence is that it will bring a closure to the days of dominance of the fossil fuel system. The days of ending that dominance are getting closer because it has made RE competitive. Therefore, I believe this will hasten energy transition,” Singh said in his address at the forum. To illustrate, he said, ”In this crisis, the price of coal went up to $150 a tonne. Now that is more expensive than RE plus storage. So, in one step, it made RE plus storage (round the clock) viable. And once you have round-the-clock RE plus storage viable, then that is the end of the story for fossil fuels.”

India’s climate pledge

Singh emphasised that India did not opt for RE due to economic reasons. “We went into this because we respect the environment. It is part of our culture. Environment, for our government, is very important,” he added. In 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi set a target to achieve RE capacity of 175 gigawatts (GW) by 2022. “That entailed costs because, when we started, solar energy was costing ₹8-9 per unit. Today it is 1.99. But, my Prime Minister bought solar energy when it was ₹18 a unit, when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat. He said that if I don’t start buying it now then the price will never come down. So we started adding volumes,” Singh said. Today, India’s established capacity of non-fossil fuel is 161-162 GW out of a total installed capacity of 400 GW. “We will cross our COP 26 pledge of having 500 GW non-fossil capacity by 2030 before the deadline. Because we already have about 82 GW under construction and 28 GW under bid,” Singh said.