In a move indicative of India’s push towards clean energy, Gujarat has dropped a proposal for setting up a 4,000-Megawatt (MW) coal-based power project.
It would have been the state of Gujarat’s second ultra-mega power project (UMPP). Gujarat had housed the country’s first UMPP, when Tata Power started generation from its Mundra unit in 2012.
The proposed site for the UMPP was near Gir Somnath district in the southern part of the Kathiawar peninsula. The Gujarat State Electricity Corporation was to handle the UMPP. Close to Rs 20,000-crore investment was required.
But the government decided the state was already sufficiently supplied with energy and that focusing on renewables was a better longer term strategy. At a time when Gujarat already has around 30,000 MW installed capacity, including from renewable sources, a new conventional power plant was unnecessary in the view of the Gujarat government.
“Gujarat had proposed the UMPP last year but we now feel we do not need more,” Energy Minister Chimanbhai Sapariya told Business Standard. “We already have more than sufficient generation capacity. Our focus is now on renewable energy. The government will encourage solar power.”
India’s laudable push towards clean energy
By 2022, India aims to have the capacity to generate 175 gigawatts of power from solar, biomass, and wind energy. A draft report by the country’s electricity agency in December predicted that capacity would increase to 275 gigawatts by 2027.
With 8.8GW of capacity addition projected for the year ahead, India is set to become the third-biggest solar market globally in 2017, overtaking Japan, according to the India Solar Handbook 2017.
The government has forecast that it will exceed the renewable energy targets set in the Paris Agreement by nearly half and three years ahead of schedule. The Draft National Electricity Plan predicts that, by 2027, 57% of India’s total electricity capacity will come from non-fossil fuel sources (the Paris climate accord target was 40% by 2030).
Tim Buckley, a director at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, said the most important factor driving a rush of international investment in Indian renewables was the “transparency, longevity and certainty” of the country’s energy policy. He told The Guardian, “That is absolutely critical because when you invest for 25 to 35 years, you need certainty and clarity of policy.”
The Logical Indian take
Thanks to scientists, environmentalists, activists, and increased awareness, climate change is now taken seriously by most governments in the world. Climate action accelerated in pace particularly after 2015’s historic Paris Agreement. Other than India, other countries have pitched in too.
- China, for example, has introduced a cap on coal and will peak coal emission by 2030.
- Germany will ban combustion engines by 2030.
- In the US, high-profile advocates for the environment have funded a 20-year clean energy fund to the tune of US$1 billion.
- Britain recently set a record the world was happy to see: it had its first coal-free power day in 135 years.
Climate change is probably the biggest global problem of our time. Implementing the Paris Agreement will be the first concrete step in reversing the drastic consequences of climate change which have endangered our very existence.
Developments like today’s where a state government abandoned coal for clean energy show a positive movement for our society. Such measures should be applauded and encouraged so that the goals of the Paris Agreement can be met as soon as possible, well before the stipulated time.
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