Q. Discuss the role of renewable energy resources in order to maintain environmental sustainability with special reference to India.

Relevance: GS III Date: 07/01/24

Ans: Renewable energy refers to energy derived from natural resources that replenish themselves over a short period and don't deplete. These sources, such as solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal energy, are environmentally friendly alternatives to fossil fuels and are crucial for sustainable energy development. India is a global leader in this sector, with 35% of its electricity generation capacity coming from renewable sources as of 2019. These sources contribute to 17% of India's total electricity output.

Role of renewable energy resources in sustainable development:

  • Sustainable Development: In India, the development of large-scale solar parks, like the Bhadla Solar Park in Rajasthan, serves as a prime example of sustainable development. These parks help in significantly reducing the nation's reliance on imported fossil fuels, thus promoting economic growth while keeping greenhouse gas emissions in check.

  • Benefits for the Poor: The installation of solar panels in rural and remote areas, where electrification via traditional grid systems is challenging, has transformed lives. For instance, in off-grid villages, solar-powered systems provide reliable electricity, enhancing living standards and offering new economic opportunities.

  • Wider Energy Access: Distributed solar energy systems in areas like Ladakh and the remote parts of Northeast India showcase how localized renewable energy solutions can overcome the limitations of traditional grid electricity. These systems ensure consistent power supply despite geographical and weather-related challenges.

  • Climate Change Mitigation: The adoption of wind energy, particularly in coastal areas like Tamil Nadu and Gujarat, is a significant step towards climate change mitigation. These wind farms produce clean energy, drastically reducing carbon emissions compared to conventional coal-based power plants, and demonstrate a commitment to sustainable energy practices.

India's Renewable Energy Efforts :

  • MNRE Establishment: India was the first to establish a ministry for non-conventional energy resources, now known as the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), with the Solar Energy Corporation of India spearheading solar energy development.

  • INDC Targets: Under the Paris Agreement, India aims for 40% of its electricity generation from non-fossil fuels by 2030, with an interim target of 175 GW, including solar, wind, biomass, and small hydro.

  • CEA's Blueprint: The Central Electricity Authority's blueprint sets a goal of 57% total electricity capacity from renewables by 2027, targeting 275 GW from renewable energy, 72 GW hydroelectricity, 15 GW nuclear, and 100 GW from other zero-emission sources.

Way Forward

Strengthening both intra and inter-state transmission infrastructure and Investing in R&D and human resource development are essential for supporting the expansion of renewable energy. 

Advait IAS