The idea of renewable energy as a significant contributor in the power supply pie was treated with a lot of condescension for most of the past decade. It is only in this decade that the concept has caught up worldwide and many projects are being planned on rates as low as under 3 cents/ unit of power sold. As an alternative to fossil fuel based energy, its economical, ecological and social value is now fully appreciated. India has a natural geographical advantage in solar power and wind too. Now the question is not whether, but how soon, India can, embrace solar power. Its hurdles will be legacy thermal power production base, coal reserves in India’s mines and practical ground issues relating to land acquisition.
To discuss this, the FPJ-IMC Forum organised a panel discussion with experts at the Indian Merchants Chamber, Mumbai. The keynote address was given by Upendra Tripathy, Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Government of India. The panel comprised Jayant Parimal, CEO, Adani Green Energy and Vikram Kailas, Managing Director, Mytrah Energy. The event was moderated by R.N.Bhaskar of FPJ with editorial support from Pankaj Joshi.
The welcome address was given by Dilip Piramal, the outgoing president, IMC, and the vote of thanks by President-Elect Deepak Premnarayen.
Dilip Piramal: In the last two years, the Ministry of Coal – Power, Coal and New and Renewable Energy under the Honorable Minister’s able leadership has transformed the power sector with comprehensive reforms. The Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY), with the aim to turn around loss-making DISCOMs across all states is just one example. Under UDAY, bonds worth Rs.1 lakh crore were issued in 2015-16. In the past year, more than 7,000 villages were electrified, way above the targets. This ministry is helping India run the world’s largest renewable energy program with target of 175 gigawatts by 2022.
Shri. Piyush Goyal, the Minister, launched the Surya Mitra mobile App last week which aims to create employment opportunities for skilled manpower in installations, commissioning, operation and maintenance of solar power plants and equipment.
Clean and green energy in the form of solar power is the major energy source. Our country is endowed with unlimited solar energy. The way solar energy prices are going down and technology is developing, energy costs can become very low. We may even go to days of even free energy, something quite unthinkable even a few years ago.
There are challenges, however, to the Government of India’s vision of connecting the unconnected and 24×7 affordable and environmentally friendly power to all – such as getting all states to sign up for the UDAY agreements, connecting remote villages, upgradation of infrastructure, new technologies and improved efficiency in order to reduce costs. Today, the panel will discuss the entire gamut of challenges and the opportunities in the solar segment.
FPJ: Thank you, Dilip. Could I also request Ashok Karnani to hand over a small memento on behalf of the Free Press Journal to the Secretary and the panelists? Thank you very much for coming over.
I also have a very unusual request of the Secretary, Upendra Tripathy. This will be possibly our last panel discussion under the present President. We have started in the month of January and in six months, we have covered six discussions, at the end of which we have come out with policy reports. Each panel discussion has met with a better reception than ever before. Could I request you now to hand over to Dilip Piramal a special memento for making this possible?
Piramal: Thank you very much. This is a very pleasant and welcome surprise. As Mr. Bhaskar said, we have done about six programs, and each program has been of very high quality, and so has the calibre of the speakers. Today’s program was to be a minister, but we have now the secretary who is by himself very important. And we have had such eminent people as the Chairman of NDDB and the Municipal Commissioner (of Mumbai) and the MMRDA Commissioner. We have had very high quality programs, and it has been a very satisfying experience. I thank the Karnanis, the promoters of the Free Press Journal and, of course, Mr. Bhaskar, who has been the spearhead. Thank you very much.
FPJ: Thank you. Could I now request Secretary Tripathy to make his keynote address.