As the world grapples with the pressing need to confront climate change, the global quest for sustainable and renewable energy is accelerated. India, a nation experiencing rapid growth in both population and economy, stands at a critical juncture where it’s facing a dramatic surge in its energy requirements. In this context, the production of “Green energy” has emerged as one of the most promising options. India has demonstrated remarkable commitment and leadership in embracing green growth and reducing its dependency on fossil fuels.
The G20 Energy Meeting: A Platform for India’s Green Commitment:
At the G20 Energy Ministerial Meeting in 2023, Prime Minister Narendra Modi eloquently emphasized India’s steadfast commitment to green energy. Notably, he highlighted the country’s exceptional achievement of reaching its non-fossil installed electric capacity target nine years ahead of schedule, setting the stage for a remarkable feat – achieving 50% non-fossil installed capacity by 2030. The Prime Minister proudly showcased India’s leadership position in solar and wind power globally, attributing this success to substantial investments in research and development of clean energy technologies. Through his speech, he sent a clear message to the world, reaffirming India’s determination to embrace a sustainable, eco-conscious energy future. In addition, India’s approach to energy transition is worth noting. Initiatives such as the LED light distribution program, the largest in the world, and the agricultural pump solarization initiative showcase how simple interventions can yield substantial results. Saving over 45 billion units of energy annually through the LED program, India proves that collective efforts can lead to massive energy savings and a greener future.
India’s Green Energy Initiatives:
As the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, India recognizes the critical importance of shifting its energy paradigm towards sustainability. India’s aspirations for green energy are ambitious, aiming to generate an impressive 450 gigawatts of solar power, 175 gigawatts of wind power, and 100 gigawatts of biomass power by 2030. Additionally, India is committed to reducing its emissions intensity by 33-35 % by 2030, a significant step towards curbing carbon emissions and combating climate change. While these goals may seem challenging, India’s abundant resources and technological capabilities could turn these ambitions into realities.
India’s pursuit of renewable energy has yielded remarkable results, transforming the nation into a global leader in green energy production. India has launched several initiatives and missions to promote the development and use of green and sustainable energies.
- Renewable Energy Capacity Expansion: India’s vast geographical expanse and abundant sunshine have made solar energy a natural choice for the nation’s renewable energy mix. The National Solar Mission aims to promote solar power generation across the country. Through favorable policies and incentives, India rapidly expanded its solar capacity, making it one of the world’s largest solar energy producers. Additionally, the Wind Energy Mission and the Biomass Energy Program have also been crucial in diversifying the renewable energy mix. Various states have implemented policies to encourage the development of wind farms, leading to a substantial increase in wind energy capacity. In addition to solar and wind, India has also recognized the potential of hydropower to contribute to its renewable energy goals. The country has been investing in hydroelectric projects, especially in the Himalayan regions, to leverage the power of flowing water.
- Development of Green Hydrogen and Ammonia: Green Hydrogen is a clean and renewable fuel that has the potential to power a variety of sectors. Hydrogen combustion does not produce carbon dioxide (CO2) and has zero-emission of carbonaceous species, making it an environmentally benign source of energy. Hydrogen energy is versatile and can be used in vehicles, electricity generation, and heating systems. The government of India has taken a series of initiatives and missions to promote the advancement of hydrogen energy across various sectors. Among these initiatives, the National Hydrogen Mission, with an ambitious goal to position India as a global leader in green hydrogen production, aims to generate 5 million metric tonnes (MMT) of green hydrogen by 2030. Additionally, the Strategic Interventions for Green Hydrogen Transition (SIGHT) program provides vital financial backing for green hydrogen projects, boasting a substantial budget of Rs. 17,490 crores. Collaborating with the International Solar Alliance, India’s Multiple Pathways project aims to chart a comprehensive roadmap for hydrogen production and application within the nation. Furthermore, the National Hydrogen Energy Roadmap, released in 2021, lays out a comprehensive vision and strategic framework, proposing policy measures and investment strategies essential for sustainable growth. Just like hydrogen, green ammonia is a zero-emission fuel that can be used in a variety of applications, including transportation, power generation, and fertilizer production. As of 2023, India has made significant progress in the development of green ammonia, with a number of operational projects and government support. Different states are also keen on establishing green hydrogen/ammonia production and export. A recent example of this is Kerala, which has received several proposals worth Rs 30,000-cr.
- Energy Efficiency Measures: Recognizing the significance of energy efficiency in curbing emissions, India has implemented various energy conservation measures across industries, commercial establishments, and households. The Perform, Achieve, and Trade (PAT) scheme is a notable example, where industries are mandated to improve energy efficiency and trade energy-saving certificates.
- Electric Mobility: India has been proactive in fostering electric mobility as an alternative to fossil fuel-powered transportation. The National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) and Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (FAME) schemes incentivize the production and adoption of electric vehicles. These efforts not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also improve air quality in urban areas.
- Green Finance Initiatives: To bolster investments in renewable energy projects, India has established various green finance initiatives. The issuance of Green Bonds and the creation of funds dedicated to renewable energy projects demonstrate the government’s commitment to providing financial support for green initiatives.
Global Influence: India as a Beacon of Hope
India’s proactive approach to green energy and its commitment to international collaborations have positioned the nation as a beacon of hope in the global fight against climate change. As a developing country with immense growth potential, India’s dedication to sustainable practices sends a powerful message to the world: environmental responsibility and economic progress can go hand in hand. India recognizes that global cooperation is vital in addressing climate change. Initiatives like the International Solar Alliance (ISA), launched jointly with France, aim to promote solar energy deployment in solar-rich regions and strengthen partnerships between countries to tackle climate challenges collectively.
In his recent speech, Prime Minister Modi mentioned the importance of advancing a sustainable, inclusive, and clean energy transition, while ensuring that countries in the Global South are not left behind. He called for low-cost finance and technology transfer to aid developing nations and stressed the need for collaboration on future fuels. The Green Grids Initiative, operating under the International Solar Alliance’s motto of “One Sun, One World, One Grid” presents an opportunity for global solidarity in achieving climate goals, stimulating green investment, and generating millions of green jobs.
Challenges and Opportunities on the Path Ahead:
Despite its dedication, India faces certain challenges on its journey towards achieving a net-zero future. One critical concern is maintaining energy security while transitioning to green alternatives, given the large and rapidly growing economy. Ensuring a consistent and affordable energy supply for the nation remains a priority. Another challenge lies in the development of green hydrogen technologies. Although green hydrogen holds immense potential as a clean fuel for transportation and electricity generation, the current production costs are high. Overcoming this obstacle and creating more efficient and cost-effective technologies will be vital. Also, there is currently a lack of infrastructure for the production, storage, and transportation of hydrogen. This is a major barrier to the development of the hydrogen energy sector.
A Call for Action:
To achieve its ambitious net-zero targets, India must continue investing in renewable energy and green hydrogen technologies. The government should foster a supportive policy environment to nurture the growth of these crucial sectors. Individuals, academic institutions, and businesses can also play a part in contributing to India’s sustainability journey. By opting for green energy sources and adopting energy-efficient practices, they can actively reduce the nation’s carbon footprint.
It’s worth noting that researchers at SRM University-AP are actively engaged in the development of novel, low-cost, and efficient materials for hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) and storage. Currently, the most efficient HER catalysts are the precious noble metals such Pt, Pd, and their alloys. However, high cost, scarcity, and poor durability limit their large-scale applications.
Addressing this challenge, Dr. Jatis Kumar Dash and his research group from the Physics department have successfully developed low-cost, non-conventional methods to grow and functionalize various two-dimensional (2D) materials. These materials show great promise as photocatalysts for green hydrogen production contributing to the advancement of sustainable energy solutions.
Additionally, Dr. Mallikarjuna Rao Motapothula’s team is focused on CO2 reduction and its conversion into valuable fuels and commodity chemicals. Furthermore, researchers at SRM University-AP are deeply involved in Computational Materials Science. Notably, Prof. Ranjit Thapa’s group employs a cutting-edge Quantum Mechanics/Machine Learning Approach to predict novel catalysts for Hydrogen evolution, CO2 reduction, and green ammonia energy, pushing the boundaries of scientific exploration in these crucial areas.
It is important to highlight that the revamped curriculum at SRM, Andhra Pradesh, aims to provide students with a well-rounded grasp of theoretical foundations and practical applications through project-based learning. Both undergraduate and graduate students are actively encouraged to participate in ongoing research activities, gaining hands-on experience in state-of-the-art technological skills. As a result, they will be well-prepared to thrive in diverse industrial energy sectors.
As India continues its journey towards a greener future, it is essential for the academic/research community to collaborate and support the country in achieving its goals. Together, we can create a world that is powered by clean and renewable energy, leaving behind a legacy of responsible stewardship for generations to come.