Scale up access to renewable and efficient energy for all
As one of the fastest growing economies in the world, India is set to contribute 1/4th of the projected rise in global energy demand by 2040. It is already the fourth largest greenhouse gas emitter after China, USA, and the EU, and as it creates more and better opportunities for its people, leading to improved living standards, emissions will continue to rise. Still, although energy use in India has almost doubled since 2000, energy consumption per capita is one third of the global average and 237 million Indians do not have access to energy. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has committed to ensuring that the 27 million households that remain without energy get power by 2019.
Alongside the goal of bringing electricity to hundreds of millions of people, India has also set significant voluntary targets under the Paris Agreement on climate change. It has committed to reduce emissions intensity of GDP by 33-35 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels, and to boost renewable energy capacity to 40 percent by 2030, as well as to ensure that 40 percent of electricity requirement will be met through non-fossil fuels.
The Government of India has also set an ambitious target of generating 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022. Its leadership on the International Solar Alliance (along with France) signals its commitment. As a result, annual investments in solar power could surpass investments in coal by 2019-20, with US$35 billion committed by global players. Therefore, by 2020, solar energy could be cheaper than coal. The energy access market (through only decentralised renewable energy, DRE) in India is estimated at US$400 million. Globally, when renewable energy use is doubled, world GDP is expected to expand to US$1.3 trillion. Market-based approaches to unlock energy efficiency opportunities are estimated to be worth more than US$11 billion.
Potential Areas of Focus
The scale of India’s ambitions to expand its renewable energy capacity opens the door for business and private sector to work alongside central and state governments to pilot innovative renewable energy technologies. Through innovative and grid-complementing DRE solutions, such as home energy systems and renewable energy mini-grids, businesses can help ensure last mile connectivity for remote communities. Investment in solar energy and efficient storage via lithium-ion based batteries, the cornerstone of expanding renewable energy use, is key. Sector-building through innovative business models and financial institutions, such as green infrastructure bonds to raise funds to provide debt financing for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, could be another key area for intervention.
- At a meeting in June 2017 to define tangible goals, the group agreed to jointly explore 4-5 key solutions that could significantly address the energy challenge faced by India. Key outcomes defined were:
- Put together a business case akin to government mission which complements the DDU mission.
- Mainstream ‘Decentralised Renewable Energy’ into the main network, and focus on innovation in the DRE space
- Discuss ways to utilise the Make in India / National Environment Fund
- The group agreed to form a task force of volunteers with sub-groups each for analytics, policy, innovation, and demand aggregation. The sub-groups hold regular meetings both virtually and in person.
- The group held a roundtable with the Secretary, Ministry of New & Renewable Energy and the UN Resident Coordinator, in September 2017. The Additional Secretary, Joint Secretary, advisors and the taskforce members were also present for the discussion, which centred around key issues faced in the DRE sector, as well as the role of industry. The group presented their recommendations on the four sub-topics.
- At the recommendation of the ministry, that the UNIBF taskforce put a 10-point recommendation note, which outlined potential opportunities for intervention in order to significantly advance the sector. Seven points were shortlisted after another discussion with the Additional Secretary.
- Conversations have begun around partnerships in the seven areas identified, which should demonstrate the potential of replicable and scalable ideas.