India is moving to the centre stage of the world of energy with its hybrid policy formulated keeping in my mind long-term sustainable goals.
Transition to clean energy is causing a significant change in the way electricity is generated all over the world. Variable renewable energy generation that relies particularly on wind and solar power has increased dramatically over the last decade, owing to lower costs and favourable policy environments expected to continue and even accelerate in line with climate change goals.
According to the national wind-solar hybrid policy issued by the ministry of new and renewable energy on, May 14, 2018, the policy's primary goal is to provide a framework for promoting large grid-connected wind-solar PV (photovoltaic) hybrid systems for the most effective and efficient use of wind and solar resources, transmission infrastructure, and land.
A scheme for developing a 2500 MW inter-state transmission system (ISTS) connected wind-solar hybrid projects was approved by Ministry of New and Renewable Energy on May 25, 2018.1 One of the main objectives in implementing this wind-solar hybrid policy is to ensure 'energy security'. The present article attempts to analyse this hybrid policy of the Union government through the lens of energy security.
Moving towards Clean & Green Energy
The primary objective for deploying renewable energy in India is to advance economic development, improve energy security, improve access to energy, and mitigate climate change. Sustainable development is possible by use of sustainable energy and by ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for citizens. The best example of such a step is the 'hybrid policy'.
Before dealing with this topic in hand, defining the term 'energy security' would be pertinent. In simple terms, energy security can be defined as the accessibility of cheaper forms of electricity by minimising the usage of available natural resources. The IEA (International Energy Agency) defines energy security as follows:2
"As the uninterrupted availability of energy sources at an affordable price. Energy security has many aspects: long-term energy security mainly deals with timely investments to supply energy in line with economic developments and environmental needs. On the other hand, short-term energy security focuses on the ability of the energy system to react promptly to sudden changes in the supply-demand balance."3
When it comes to power generation, renewable energy is always the front-runner. India, a peninsula with a tropical climate, is always considered a front runner in renewable energy sources, leading to clean and green energy.
However, the initial costs associated with renewable energy such as uncertainty about its viability, and scepticism about its long-term applicability are some of the most significant factors limiting its generation and adoption. To address these concerns, the Union government has implemented a variety of policies, regulations, and subsidies to encourage the use of clean energy, alleviate developer concerns, and raise user awareness. This is where the hybrid policy comes in. The hybrid policy is dedicated towards providing a clear and green energy environment, thereby promoting sustainable development which has been recognised as fundamental right under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.4
An Energy-efficient policy
The best part of hybrid policy is that it works along the concept of energy security The policy is energy efficient as it restrains the growth of energy consumption, which in turn helps to maintain a sustainable climate. India has set a target of achieving 175 GW installed capacity of renewable energy, which includes 100GW from solar and 65GW from wind energy as a part of its commitment to the Paris Agreement. This is a remarkable step towards reducing greenhouse gases emission.
Energy efficiency offers a powerful and cost-effective tool for achieving a sustainable energy future.5 According to the World Energy Council, most countries have significantly reduced their total energy use per unit of GDP over the last three decades.6 This decline has been possible due to improvements in Energy Efficiency.7
The four main pillars of Energy Security are:
If one examines the current hybrid policy of the Union government, all the above-mentioned criteria are met. For instance, Adani Green Energy, a renewable energy company headquartered in Gujarat, has commissioned a 700MW hybrid wind-solar facility, the world's largest hybrid wind-solar power plant in Rajasthan. It has a power purchase agreement with the solar corporation of India (SECI) to provide electricity for 25 years at a rate of Rs. 2.67 Kw/h8. Similarly on May 6, 2022, the government owned Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN) won a contract worth Rs 195 crore for setting up its maiden hybrid plant with a 30 MW generation capacity through a tender floated by the SECI.9
The primary aim of the above-mentioned plant is not only to sell cheaper electricity, but also to provide clean and efficient energy, thereby reducing carbon emissions. According to India's energy outlook, the country is pushing towards renewable energy, notably solar and wind power, motivated by its target to reach 175 GW of installed renewable capacity (excluding large hydro) by 2022.10
The biggest positive point of the hybrid policy is that it will be cost-effective. The hybridisation of the wind and solar assets is likely to lower the capital cost by five to seven per cent compared to the cost of standalone wind and solar assets, thereby improving the returns of the developers.11
Hybrid systems are expected to become increasingly cost competitive, driven by reducing costs of battery storage and solar energy. An optimal combination of solar, wind and storage can deliver stable round-the-clock power even at today's costs of around 6-7 Indian Rupees per kilowatt hour (kWh). Compared to baseload coal plants, this is significantly higher.12
The results of the new policies scenario show that India is moving to the center stage of the world of energy. For instance, India will overtake China as the largest single source of rising demand for coal and oil in 2040. However, China's consumption of the two fuels is still projected to be almost twice as high as that of India in 2040. Consumption patterns in India will not change dramatically but will be amplified. Thus, an energy efficient India dream is not far ahead.13
The hybrid policy has been incorporated keeping in mind the long-term sustainable goals. The policy also allows for the use of battery storage in the hybrid project to optimise output and reduce variability. It directs regulatory agencies to develop the necessary standards and regulations for wind-solar hybrid systems.14
According to the authors, the biggest outcome of this policy will be Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Though fiscal quarter Q3 in the financial year 2023 saw a dip of 46% in India's renewable sector, this can be attributed largely to the geopolitical situation resulting from the Russia-Ukraine war.15 However, FDI in the financial year 2021-22 stood at 1.6 billion $ and this investment was the highest ever in the Indian renewable energy sector.16 Therefore, with gradual improvement in geopolitical situation and further bettering of policies, India's energy security can prove be a benchmark for other nations.
1. PIB, Tenders for 10,100 MW of hybrid/ RTC/ Peak power capacity issued by SECI Research project of Rs 17.99 crore entitled "Integrated Wind and Solar Resource Assessment through Mapping and Measurements" sanctioned (Nov. 30, 2021), available at: https://pib.gov.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=227282
2. Editorial, Ensuring the uninterpreted availability of energy sources at an affordable price, IEA, available at: https://www.iea.org/about/energy-security
4. N.D. Jayal v. UOI, (2004) 9 SCC 362.
5. Ilhan Ozturk, Energy Dependency and Energy Security: The Role of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Sources, 4 Pak. Dev. Rev. 309 (2013).
6. World Energy Council, World Energy Perspectives, available at: https://www.worldenergy.org/assets/downloads/Exec-Summary_EnergyEfficiency-A-straight-path-towards-energy-sustainability.pdf
8. Adani Renewables, Adani Green Becomes Worlds Largest Wind Solar Hybrid Power Developer, available at: https://www.adanigreenenergy.com/newsroom/media-releases/adani-green-becomes-worlds-largest-wind-solar-hybrid-power-developer (last visited July 9, 2023).
9. Editorial, SJVN bags Contract for 30 MW wind-solar hybrid project worth Rs 195 Cr, The Economic Times (May 6, 2022), available at: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/renewables/sjvn-bags-contract-for-30-mw-wind-solar-hybrid-project-worth-rs-195-cr/articleshow/91374150.cms?from=mdr
10. IEA, Energy Efficiency Outlook for India-Sizing up the opportunity, available at: https://iea.blob.core.windows.net/assets/a27eeef7-b4ef-44f2-b7ca-0c85db33d0b7/IndiaEnergyEfficiencyOutlook_20161215_Final.pdf
11. Editorial, Hybrid wind-solar assets may lower capital costs by 5-7%: Study, Energyworld.com (Sep. 10, 2018), available at: https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/renewable/hybrid-wind-solar-assets-may-lower-capital-costs-by-5-7-study/65756328.
12. Suvojoy Sengupta & Ketav Mehta, Renewable hybrid energy system as a game changer in India, LiveMint.com (Aug. 19, 2019), available at: https://www.livemint.com/opinion/online-views/opinion-renewable-hybrid-energy-systems-as-a-game-changer-1566235207654.htm
14. PIB, MNRE issues National Wind-Solar Hybrid Policy (May 14, 2018), available at: https://pib.gov.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=179270
15. Rakesh Ranjan, Foreign Direct Investment in India's Renewable Sector Dips 46% in Q3 FY 2023, Mercom (March 6, 2023), available at: https://www.mercomindia.com/foreign-direct-investment-indias-renewable-dips-fy-2023
16. Arjun Joshi, FDI in Indian Renewables Sector up by 100% to $1.6 billion in FY22, Mercom (June 3, 2022), available at: https://www.mercomindia.com/fdi-in-indian-renewable-sector-up
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