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India Promotes Renewable Energy: Ambassador's Interview with VITV

Posted on: March 22, 2021 | Back | Print

In the context of increasingly serious climate change, the Government of India has taken many steps to promote clean energy. India’s bold and ambitious goal is to build the world's largest renewable energy system. India's clean energy strategy is receiving great support from the people at home and around the world. VITV chats with the Indian Ambassador to Vietnam Mr. Pranay Verma to understand India’s renewable energy ambitions.

VITV: It is known that the Indian Government is aiming to change the energy structure, towards the use of clean energy sources. Could you share more about this?

Ambassador: Thank you for this interview on clean energy and climate change.  These are very important issues for all of us and I would like to begin by saying that over the last six years we have adopted a really proactive, ambitious and forward-looking vision and taken corresponding steps to meet the challenge of climate change. Today we are in a position where we are not just in compliance with Paris Agreement commitments, but are actually exceeding them. And these include practical steps across wide-ranging sectors – from energy, to industry, transport, agricultural, forestry etc. – as a whole-of-society effort to make India a leader in climate ambition as well as climate action. Renewable energy is naturally a big focus of our strategy.  India’s National Action Plan for Climate Change actually has two National Missions dedicated to renewable energy – one on solar and the other on wind energy.  These are all part of our efforts to make a strategic shift to clean and renewable energy as part of India’s energy mix.

VITV: Recently, what progress has India made in the field of renewable energy?

Ambassador: Today India’s renewable energy capacity is world’s fourth largest. Our installed capacity has grown by more than 160% over the last five years. Today we have an installed capacity of renewables of about 90,000 Mega-Watt or 90 Giga-Watt.  This has come about by providing an enabling ecosystem, a policy environment for ramping up investment in renewable energy and, as I mentioned to you, by mainstreaming our climate policies into our industrial and manufacturing policies, and also in almost all aspects of our economic activities.

A very interesting point with India’s move to renewable energy is that we actually have a cess on coal, like a tax on use of coal, which is collected to develop a clean energy fund. Today, we are levying more than US$ 5 per tonne of coal and use that money to develop clean energy fund which goes into funding renewable energy programme and other clean energy initiatives.  So these are some notable steps we have taken in the field of renewable energy. But I would like to add that we have also taken a global leadership role in promoting renewable energy. A fine example of this is the International Solar Alliance (ISA), which India, together with France, launched in 2015 to bring countries together to talk about solar energy and explore strategies to ramp up solar energy deployments across the world, in order to help countries which do not have any experience of solar energy, with technical knowledge, resources and know-how to deploy solar energy.  So today we have nearly 90 countries which have already joined the International Solar Alliance led by India. We have also invited Vietnam and are very keen to have Vietnam join the ISA as soon as possible.

VITV: What are the India Government's renewable energy targets in the coming time?

Ambassador: If you talk about our initial target – we had at the time of Paris Accord set a target of 175 Giga-Watt of renewable energy capacity by 2030 – we have already reached 87 Giga-Watt by May 2020. So, the target of 175 Giga-Watt will be achieved by 2022 itself.  We have therefore raised our target to 450 Giga-Watt by 2030 and we are quite confident that we will be able to achieve that target before 2030. In terms of the overall mix, we have a target to have 40% power from renewable sources in our entire energy mix by 2030.  We have already achieved 21%, so the target of 40% by 2030 looks quite achievable.

VITV: What cooperation plans and programmes do India and Vietnam have on the clean energy sector?

Ambassador: Well, like India, Vietnam also has a very ambitious vision for renewable energy and so it is natural that we should cooperate in renewable energy. And we are cooperating. We have plans to cooperate even more deeply in the coming years. The Joint Vision for Peace, Prosperity and People that our Prime Ministers adopted at the Virtual Summit in December 2020, articulates our shared commitment to sustainable development and climate action even as we address our energy security needs as developing countries. The Vision document says that both sides will partner in new and renewable energy resources, energy conservation and other climate resilient technologies and it also expresses the confidence that Vietnam’s possible future participation in the International Solar Alliance will bring new opportunities for cooperation in large scale deployment of solar energy.

In terms of our actual status of renewable energy cooperation at this moment, there are some Indian investments already in renewable energy sector in Vietnam. However, we believe that there is much greater potential and a great future for renewable energy cooperation between our two countries. From our side, we are trying to make efforts to bring our businesses closer in this area. For example, our Embassy and the Consulate General of India recently organised an India-Vietnam Investment Forum in Ho Chi Minh City last month in which renewable energy was identified as one of the four sectors of our investment focus. And as I said, once Vietnam joins the International Solar Alliance, it will be a great platform for promoting our cooperation in solar energy with Vietnam.

VITV: What are the environmental impacts of growing industrial production in India?

Ambassador: The focus of our development strategy is on inclusive and sustainable development. It follows a “Green Growth” pathway that does not create environmental strains in the process of industrialization. Mainstreaming climate policies in our national development and industrial strategy is one aspect of it. We also have large ambitions for developing our economy through manufacturing industry. Actually, we have a long road to travel in achieving our national goal of industrialisation as we are still largely an agricultural economy.

But when we talk about industrialization, when we talk about making India a US$ 5 trillion economy in the next five years, we also remain focussed on our commitment to our Paris Agreement targets. This we are doing through a number of measures – legal measures that provide for tougher laws for environmental protection; technological means that incentivises focus on green technology innovation; and advocacy that creates awareness about the need for protection of the environment.  Our Prime Minister is leading from front in creating this awareness and as a result, there is people’s participation across the nation where the vision of having development in consonance with our commitment to sustainability, the idea of leaving our environment such that our successive generations can also use, is shared by almost all Indians today and has become a major underlying principle of our economic activities.

VITV: What are the specific measures that the Government of India has done to deal with air pollution in India, mainly the metro cities?

Ambassador: Air quality in big cities is a problem across the world. In many countries, including in India, it is an area of concern because it affects the quality of life. And therefore, there is much greater attention now in India from all sides – not just from Government, but also from people and the larger society, on improving the air quality, particularly in big metro cities where a large population resides.  We have a National Clean Air Programme which focusses on this issue, and through which we are targeting to reduce our air pollution, particularly the PM 2.5 and PM 10 particles by 20-30% by 2025. At the same time, we are working on several fronts – including through emission control from vehicles and industries, by increasing our forest coverage in the urban habitat and by adopting clean energy options for transport and power generation – to ensure that we minimise the damage to air quality. It is a big priority for us. It is a work in progress. And we remain hopeful that we will be able to overcome this challenge.