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India's top policy makers still relying on conventional, not renewable energy

By Shankar Sharma* 

There is yet another unsubstantiated policy statement from the government on the power/ energy sector -- ‘Energy security is India’s top priority in switching to clean fuels’ – yet, there is not a word as yet on the much needed and diligently prepared National Energy Policy, which, in any rational governance structure, should have been the basis of all such enabling policy statements.
The Union power secretary would do a great service to our people, if he accepts the fact that the Union Power ministry has a Constitutional obligation to clarify to our people as to why the draft National Electricity Plan (2022-27/32) has put a lot more emphasis on conventional technology electricity sources than on renewable energy sources (REs).
It is impossible for any moderate observer to notice in this draft plan any sense of energy security, affordability, environmental and economic sustainability, compliance with our Acts, and the true welfare of our communities. There seems no consideration of the much touted slogans such as "Atma Nirbhar Bharat", "Global Leadership Role In Climate Action", "Sub Ke Saath, Subka Vishwaas etc".
Although some reference and multiple and tall claims on green energy transition can be noticed in this draft plan, it is still heavily relying on massive additions to conventional technology electricity sources and the associated infrastructure.
In particular, the clear absence of the much needed focus on the true relevance to our communities of rooftop based special purpose vehicles (SPVs) becomes glaring. The experiences from Australia should highlight the enormous importance of home solar and storage assets, as experienced specifically in Western Australia.
Two reports from the national media: "India's first fully solar village lights up the lives of poor residents" and "On radio, PM ... refers to solar energy on Chhath Puja" should encourage/ persuade the Central Energy Authority (CEA) and the Union power ministry to put all the possible efforts to improve and implement the concept of 'fully solar village' in all nooks and corners of the country.
Can we hope that the confidence of our PM on the concept of 'fully solar village' and his ambition to make India a solar power hub and a global leader on the climate plan will be fully supported by the honest efforts of all the concerned agencies?
*Power and climate policy analyst



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