India Needs More Urgency to Meet Formidable Clean Energy Transition Targets

Panelists at Mercom India Renewables Summit dwelt on opportunities and challenges in the sector


The targets for the renewables sector are formidable, but the good news is that the clean energy transition in India is already well and truly underway, albeit with the attendant challenges.

One of the challenges the sector faces is policy instability. Frequent policy changes have the potential to destabilize the energy transition process.

The overarching issues relating to the Indian renewables sector were discussed on the first day of the Mercom India Renewables Summit 2023, an exclusive event that is being held in New Delhi. The event started with a keynote by Raj Prabhu, CEO & Co-Founder at Mercom Capital Group.

“Energy independence is at the forefront of every government agenda worldwide. We need that same sense of urgency in India to capture a bigger slice of the renewables market,” Prabhu said.

“To achieve the 450 GW of renewables (including 280 GW of solar) by 2030, we need to think three times bigger, to be precise. We must change our mindset from a 10 GW industry to a 30 GW one,” Prabhu added.

India has set an ambitious target of 500 GW of non-fossil fuel-based energy by 2030, including 280 GW of solar. It also plans to meet 50% of its electricity requirements from renewable energy sources by 2030, which brings into perspective India’s rapidly changing energy landscape.

Following the keynote, panelists at the session ‘India’s Energy Transition – Markets and Opportunities’ had an engaging discussion on defining the shape and roadmap for India’s renewable energy future.

The session featured Mohit Bhargava, Executive Director at NTPC Renewable Energy, Shivanand Nimbargi, Managing Director and CEO of Ayana Renewable, and Raj Prabhu.

Priya Sanjay, Managing Director, Mercom India, moderated the session.

The conversation touched on demand-supply scenarios, infrastructure, and policies required to instill confidence in the investment community to fund this massive transition to renewables.

Bhargava said, “Energy transition is not just about the power sector. It is one of the pillars. The government is responsible for developing policies that can help achieve the renewable target of 500 GW by 2030.”

He said that the future would not be of standalone solar or wind projects but round-the-clock power. The government needs to align its policies with the energy transition targets, which would help in the long run. Renewables will play a critical role in the next ten years, he said.

“It is essential to focus on other sectors that play an even more significant role in the energy transition. Just scaling renewable to 500 GW will not make it net zero. We need finance, the right offtake, and a supply chain to create a robust renewable energy ecosystem. NTPC currently has a pipeline of 20 GW. We are decarbonizing our fuel mix and coal-based power stations,” Bhargava added.

Echoing Bhargava’s views, Nimbargi said there is a massive gap between bidding and projects commissioned on the ground. There is also a need for an offtake policy. The last few months have been challenging because of the global macroeconomics and political issues affecting the global supply chain.

“Energy storage is going to be the next big thing in India. We can achieve the energy transition targets, but the government agencies must announce a set-in-stone auction timeline that adds up to 450 GW by 2030. It is possible, but there is a need for more coordination between the government agencies and the stakeholders,” said Prabhu.

Commenting on the steps needed to increase investors’ confidence, Bhargava remarked that money is chasing projects in India. I don’t see any gap …they are all looking to do business in the country. It’s not just about energy transition; energy security in the current scenario is equally important.

Bhargava said  Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) targets and pooling of tariffs will lead to better outcomes by ensuring that the power distribution companies (DISCOMs) from different states procure renewables at the same tariff.

Nimbargi wanted the government to extend the Production-Linked Incentive program for developing energy storage projects. The pooling mechanism will help DISCOMs to convert PPAs quickly,” he added.

He felt there is a need to align state policies with the policies at the federal level. The reform of the distribution sector is very important,” he said.

“Investors don’t like surprises. They prefer stability and don’t want the regulatory landscape to change consistently. We are in the top five markets regarding renewable energy additions, but there needs to be a change in the mentality and approach. We need to develop a 30 GW/year approach. If we do that, investors are bound to come,” added Prabhu.

Register to attend the event here.