For both its impact on its more than 1 billion citizens, and on the planet as a whole, the stakes of India’s energy transition cannot be overstated, especially with the country’s continued reliance on coal as a primary source of energy.
The good news is that India has become a leader in renewables. It has set an ambitious target of 175GW Renewable; and 80GW has already been achieved, with 10GW of renewable capacity added annually.
This has made India one of the few countries ahead of schedule on two of its three main commitments from the 2015 Paris Agreement for 2030:
37% India's installed electricity generation capacity from renewable sources
1) 40% of its total installed power capacity must come from non-fossil fuels;
2) 33 to 35% reduction of the emission intensity of its GDP (from 2005 levels);
3) creation of additional carbon sink of 2.5 -3 billion tons of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover
How did India manage to slow down CO2 emissions in such a complicated context?
Experts note that overall investment in renewables has drastically increased, while a fruitful ecosystem encourages start-ups to seek innovative ways to be more sustainable while being relevant to the country’s economic, demographic and geographic reality. Here are a few examples of how India is working to meet its energy goals:
An E-rickshaw revolution
Transportation is key anywhere in the fight against climate change, with vehicle emissions from G20 countries accounting for about 20% of all greenhouse gases. But just exactly what form of vehicles changes from country to country. In India, a favorite form of transport has long been the rickshaw. This light, two or three-wheel doorless vehicle was once human-powered, before diesel and gasoline fueled models began to spread. But in recent years, the rickshaw is seeing its own e-revolution, now making up the second-largest collection of electric vehicles in the world.
● In 2018 there were 1.5 million battery powered rickshaws in use and every month 11,000 more new e-rickshaws are added.
● In 2018 Mahindra Treo became the first all-electric rickshaw to launch in India.
● The popular Piaggio Ape unveiled its first all-electric version in December.
● India is aiming at developing a swapping system to help rickshaw owners save both money and time (it can be changed in less than a minute), unlike many other countries which focus on fast-charging innovations that are too costly for many Indian drivers.
“[India] has a clear ambition to transition to a cheaper lower emission electricity system, and that ambition is attracting healthy global investment." - Tim Buckley, Director of Energy Finance Studies, at the Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis.
Air pollution does not only come from the cities: Up to 50% of the air pollution in the state of Delhi in November every year is the result of farmers burning rice crop residue before planting new crops in the neighboring rural areas. To fight this method without economically impacting this sector, a new kind of tractor has been developed.
● The “Happy Seeder” is able to cut the previous crop, extract it from the soil and sow new seeds. The previous crop residue is then distributed over the newly seeded field as mulch.
● Happy Seeder is 10%–20% more profitable than burning and promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 78%.
● The cost of the tractor has been partly funded by an Indian government subsidy in 2018 and is supported by a rental system to avoid an excessive up-front allocation from small farmers.
ENGIE in India
ENGIE has a portfolio of 1200MW in India, including 800MW of utility scale solar farms and 480 MW of wind farms. A regular participant in competitive tenders issued by India’s central government authorities to supply power to utilities that span the country, ENGIE is also developing its customers solution business with technical facilities management as the first step. ENGIE has also recently acquired Simpa networks, India’s largest decentralized Solar home system company, and remains committed to further expand access to state-of-the-art energy solutions, with clean cooking as a particular area of focus.
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