Pralhad Joshi Gets MNRE Portfolio, Khattar is New Minister of Power

Both the ministries get a Cabinet minister each


Pralhad Joshi has been appointed the Minister of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) in the National Democratic Alliance government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Manohar Lal Khattar is the new Minister of Power.

In the previous government, R K Singh held both the Power and MNRE portfolios as Cabinet minister. This time, two Cabinet ministers will handle the two portfolios separately.

Shripad Naik has been given charge as Minister of State for both the ministries.

The Prime Minister’s decision to appoint a cabinet minister for each of the two portfolios comes as a surprise, considering that the Ministry of Power and MNRE share a lot of synergies. Many of the ministries’ functions and policies overlap, which is perhaps why R K Singh was made the sole minister of both ministries in Modi’s last dispensation.

However, given India’s aggressive renewable energy push in the last few years, it could well be that the Prime Minister has decided to give more importance to MNRE by designating a Cabinet minister to be in charge of the ministry.

India now has the third-highest solar energy capacity globally. In the first quarter of 2024, India added over 10 GW of solar capacity, the highest-ever for a quarter, according to the Q1 2024 India Solar Market Update from Mercom India Research. 2024 could turn out to be a record year for solar capacity additions.

The government has set a target of installing 500 GW of renewable energy capacity by the end of the decade. It has also launched the PM Surya Ghar: Muft Bijli Yojana, which aims to install rooftop solar systems in 10 million households. The MNRE has set up a mission directorate to oversee the implementation of the ambitious program.

Joshi, Minister of Coal and Mines in the previous government, will be expected to sustain and build on these ongoing renewable energy initiatives. He also held the portfolio of Parliamentary Affairs, which has helped build a rapport with all political parties, some of whom are in government in the states. This experience should help him push through renewable energy programs requiring buy-in from parties across the board.

Under Joshi’s charge, the Ministry of Mines launched the first-ever auctions of critical minerals used in the energy transition. Three tranches of the auctions have been held so far.

Khattar, a former chief minister of Haryana, assumed charge of the Ministry of Power and immediately got down to business by reviewing the power supply position in the country with his officials.

His role would be crucial when power demand across the country has been scaling new highs due to heightened industrial activity in recent years. Between him and Joshi, the two ministries will have to work together to integrate more renewable energy into the overall power mix to complement coal-based thermal and ensure the electricity demands of India’s economic engine are met.


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