In the past ten years, installation of renewable energy for electricity has grown at an annual rate of 25 per cent.
It has reached 30,000 MW as of January 2014. During this period, wind power installation has grown ten times and solar energy has grown from nothing to 2,500 MW.
Currently, renewable energy accounts for about 12 per cent of the total electricity generation capacity and contributes about 6 per cent of the electricity produced in the country. Renewables, therefore, produce more than twice the amount of electricity produced by all nuclear power plants in the country.
In 2012-13, the electricity produced by renewables was equivalent to meeting the per capita annual electricity requirement of about 60 million people. More than a million households in the country, today, depend solely on solar energy for their basic electricity needs.
The growth of renewable energy has changed the energy business in India. It has, in many ways, democratised energy production and consumption in the country. Before the renewable sector became a significant player, the energy business was all about fossil fuel-based big companies and grid-connected power—they dominate even today. But today there is an alternate energy market in which thousands of small companies, NGOs and social businesses are involved in selling renewable energy products and generating and distributing renewables-based energy. This trend is likely to accelerate because of two key policies of the government.
Clean energy holds the solution for long-term safety and reliability
1. Attacks on renewable energy resources, if they do occur, will not result in the devastating impacts that could occur if nuclear plants, large centralized fossil fuel plants, and pipelines are targeted – as they do not burn volatile fuels or produce radioactive fallout.
2. While electricity generated from DG units such as fuel cells, microturbines and solar panels cost more than currently available grid power, producing power locally can avoid costs of upgrading transmission and distribution networks. These avoided costs can tip economics in favor of DG.4
3. Other countries are miles ahead of the United States in utilizing DG and renewable energy resources. Denmark, the Netherlands and Finland each produce more than 40 percent of their current generation from DG, and use less primary energy per $1000 of gross domestic product than the United States.