One of the key factors in mitigating climate change is expanding the role of renewable energy. This is easily said than done because it involves technology upgradation, raising the skilled workforce pool and crucially, funding to facilitate the transition. And this effort must run simultaneous with overall decarbonisation of the energy sector.
Saurabh Kumar, Vice-President-India, Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP), provides perspective on the challenge ahead when he notes that, “Achieving India’s net-zero objective demands a comprehensive strategy. This encompasses the decarbonisation of the energy sector through renewables and energy storage, the transition to electric vehicles powered by renewable energy and green hydrogen for transport, decarbonisation efforts in industries, digitalisation of the energy sector and enhanced energy efficiency across all sectors.” Experts like him recommend the convergence of efforts from all quarters including the public and private sectors.
The GEAPP Alliance aims to unlock $100 billion in public and private capital to tackle three profound problems over the next decade which include reaching people with renewable energy, preventing carbon emissions, and creating employment in the renewable energy (RE) sector.
India aims to attain energy independence by 2047 by capitalising on renewable resources. It has already surpassed its objective of procuring 40 per cent of its installed electric capacity from clean energy sources, and it hopes that by 2030 non-traditional energy sources will account for 50 per cent of installed capacity.
To actualise India’s sustainable development goals, the Alliance aims to support the government through several initiatives. These include the partnership of GEAPP and Mahatma Phule Renewable Energy and Infrastructure Technology Limited to enable the implementation of solar projects of 1000 MW in Maharashtra. Then the Energy Transition Innovation Challenge (ENTICE) hopes to encourage and mainstream innovation in energy transition among young people. It will support start-ups and green businesses with funding.
Under the Digital Utilities for Energy Transition (DUET) programme the focus is on integrating data into a ‘unified analytics and visualisation tool’. Digitalisation is expected to improve data analytics capabilities, dynamic demand-side management and enhancing renewable penetration.
The GEAPP is also working with a consortium of technical, regulatory and policy, investment, and carbon market development experts to create a business model for battery energy storage systems, RE integration, grid balancing and a fixed tariff at the discom level.
According to Kumar, achieving the country’s net zero goals requires significant capital, both debt and equity. It is hoped that collaborative initiatives can leverage the expertise of diverse stakeholders and create a conducive funding environment. The GEAPP, he says, is committed to contributing to financial solutions that can bridge funding gaps and catalyse investments.
The emergence of battery storage, pumped storage and hydrogen as key elements within the clean energy portfolio marks a substantial stride towards diversification. While there are challenges, these technologies, in tandem with solar, wind, and hybrid projects, hold immense promise in contributing to a sustainable energy future.
When it comes to facilitating the grid integration of renewable energy sources, battery storage is a game-changer as it effectively addresses the intermittency challenge of solar and wind energy by storing surplus power for later use. Ongoing cost reductions have further bolstered the commercial viability of battery storage. Hydrogen is also being recognised as a versatile energy source. In fact, green hydrogen holds the key to decarbonising several industries. The GEAPP is engaging governments and policymakers, on incentives, subsidies, and regulations to foster investments in battery storage, pumped storage and hydrogen projects.
The Renewable Energy and Jobs: Annual Review 2022, a collaborative effort by IRENA and the International Labour Organization (ILO), focuses on countries generating employment within the renewable energy sector. It projects that the ongoing job expansion in RE could globally provide employment to over 38 million by 2030. Currently, the solar photovoltaic sector leads in job creation with 4.3 million positions, followed by hydropower and biofuels, each contributing 2.4 million jobs, and wind power with 1.3 million.
This is a healthy sign. As any expert will tell you, to be successful the transition to green energy should ensure employment replacement and job creation.