Environment & Nature

Renewable Energy: Are We Getting Closer To The Better Tomorrow?

Lekshmy GS | Jul 30 2019 08:52:57 PM
Image credits: twitter

Over the last couple of decades, electricity has become a basic necessity for people- irrespective of whether you are an urban or a rural dweller.

What is the source of energy that is used for creating electricity? The answer is, there are multiple sources depending on the availability in a particular geography. We can broadly classify these sources into two – renewable and non-renewable. While non-renewable energy sources still dominate as the key source for electricity production across the globe, there has been serious thoughts about the usage of renewable energy sources primarily due to two vital reasons – 1) non-renewable sources will eventually deplete 2) its impact on the environment is causing mankind hugely. 

Fossil fuels, including coal, oil and natural gas, which are non-renewable in nature are currently the world's primary energy source. Formed from organic materials over the course of millions of years, fossil fuels have fuelled the world over the past century.The main concern when it comes to the use of fossil fuel is around the amount of harmful gases they produce when burned, which is the biggest culprit of global warming.

Realizing the perils of fossil fuels on humanity, a number of countries have started their drive towards renewable energy.  They have milestones based approach to achieving energy generations from renewable sources. The most interesting fact is that the primary renewable sources such as solar energy, wind energy and tidal energy are plentiful in nature and has hardly any negative impact on the environment.

One of the pioneers that has clean energy generation on its top agenda is United States of America, where at least 21 states of it has set a very clear direction towards the enforcement of Renewable Portfolio Standards. This mandates a specified percentage of the electricity that utilities sell to come from renewable sources. For example, the state of California has started their journey towards setting renewable energy targets in 2004 and has set a goal to move towards 100% clean energy by 2045. 

India also has emerged as one of the leaders in promoting renewable energy to tackle global climate change over the last 10 years. It has currently set a target to achieve 175,000 MW of electricity produced from renewable sources by 2022.  The current statistics tell us that the country will achieve it before its set target date. According to a U.S. based research and consulting firm, Mercom Capital Group, solar-generated electricity contributed 7,110MW (39% of overall capacity additions that year), up from 4,313MW added in 2016, thus giving India a total solar-electric generation capacity of 14,700 MW as of September 2017.

The national solar mission is an initiative launched by the Government of India in 2008 in association with the State Governments to promote India’s ecological growth and contribution towards the global effort to contain climate changes.

While the Indian states are driving their efforts towards achieving the national target of renewable energy standards, there are challenges in managing the right demand supply standards that are detrimental for its success. For example, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have seen a slowdown in renewable energy growth because of surplus supply and lack of demand for additional capacity, which implies that once the generation cost of electricity from renewable sources are lower than the conventional source, then the policies should support the sustainability of such drives. Karnataka is holding the current top spot in renewable energy generation in India and is driving this by example such as withdrawal of surcharges levied on private companies that sold greener energy with support from Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC).

While a number of states are well ahead in the journey towards cleaner energy, there is a need for participation from the entire country to achieve this goal for a better world.