According to reports, for those in the renewable energy sector, the end of every year is marked by the conclusion of the UN COP (Conference of Parties) discussions. We prepare, we hope and yet, each year, we watch a repeat performance of the previous years; a last minute marathon of debates which conclude little and promise much. Change is excruciatingly slow, especially at a time when humanity needs to take a giant leap to secure its future.
I have always been proud that the Indian wind sector seemed unfazed by the politics around the globe. The market grew to be third largest in the world riding on the success of strong policy and regulatory framework. In 2011, India surpassed 3,000 MW in annual installations. This marked a 138% growth over a two year horizon; a remarkable achievement in times of global economic depression.
The Indian wind industry has however slowed. In 2012, the industry recorded close to a 40% dip in installations in the first half of the year. Recent policy changes have affected the growth of the industry and it remains to be seen what steps are taken to restore balance. However, the long-term outlook for the sector remains strong. The India Wind Energy Outlook 2012 estimates wind energy generation capacity in India could more than quadruple to 89 GW by 2020.
The paper also reports that this expansion in capacity will attract investments of over US$ 16.5 billion, create over 1.79 lakh jobs and offset 131 approximately million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. I in fact believe that the benefits could be far greater. Technology and innovation are swiftly moving wind energy towards grid parity and it won’t be long before it can directly compete with even coal-based power; perhaps, even as early as 2015.
The potential to diversify the application of wind energy is being tested across various applications; for example, cleaning water used for oil and gas exploration processes such as fracking, and providing dedicated power for irrigation systems. Experiments are also underway to use electricity produced from wind to generate hydrogen; using clean electricity to generate a clean fuel for next generation vehicles. The field of wind energy has immeasurable scope for innovation, translating to real world applications and tremendous economic opportunity.
This is crucially important in India. As our economy continues to evolve, and we push to ensure every Indian has access to opportunity, decent jobs and livelihood, we will need ever greater resources to make this possible. The key will be energy. Clean, sustainable, renewable – and equally important, domestic – sources of energy are essential to fulfil the potential of India in the coming years, and I am certain wind energy will play a major part in shaping the India of tomorrow.