Views of Piyush Goyal: “We need to decentralise, decarbonise and digitalise the energy space”

“We need to decentralise, decarbonise and digitalise the energy space”

With climate change being a global concern, the adoption of renewable energy has accelerated across the world in recent years, and India has been no exception. Piyush Goyal, Minister of State with Independent Charge for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy, spoke about the growing role of renewable energy and its significance in combating climate change, in a recent address at the 8th World Renewable Energy Technology Congress in New Delhi. Excerpts…

Over the years, the renewable energy sector has made significant progress across the world, particularly in India. This progress could not have been possible but for the engagement, collaboration and cooperation among all the stakeholders as well as between countries which have taken a lead in promoting renewable energy.

And as one looks at the journey of the renewable energy sector, one is reminded of Steve Jobs’ saying in 1983, “The future is not going to be as it used to be.” It is a simple yet logical statement, but somehow, over the years we have looked at the renewable energy sector with a little bit of a laissez-faire attitude. Long-term perspectives were based on traditional modes of energy generation and the impact of climate change was not taken seriously. This resulted in a rapid decline in the quality of the atmosphere and the environment in the past 15-20 years and it has now become one of the largest concerns before humanity. Climate change remained something in the distant future for many countries and they did not recognise it as an important element of the very existence of mankind. But post the Paris agreement, the world as a whole has clearly recognised climate change as a serious issue.

We have had a number of global engagements in the recent past, for instance, the International Solar  Alliance has been instituted and before the end of this calendar year, we will see the alliance as a multilateral agency ratified by the first 15 countries that will then be founding members. Besides, we have seen Mission Innovation taking some shape and, going forward, I do hope to see more action on this front. A number of global engagements have taken place on the geothermal front as well as rapid expansion of decarbonisation in the energy space.

All the engagements are focusing efforts towards a common goal to decarbonise, decentralise and digitalise the energy space. I think these three D’s will define the energy sector in the future and unless we decentralise, decarbonise, and go for more and more digital technologies, we could end up decelerating the world economy. I doubt if the world has more time or space to further mess with the environment. We need to accelerate our efforts to promote clean energy, reduce pollution and control carbon dioxide emissions.

The cost of renewable energy generation is declining and becoming far more reasonable than the cost of other forms of energy. Today, renewable energy is becoming more and more attractive, with costs often below grid parity. Going forward, with advancements in technology and better grid integration, renewable energy will become even more attractive, particularly for emerging economies like India.

We are also focusing on promoting electric vehicles (EVs) to bring down the consumption of oil and petroleum products. We wish to promote a system where renewable energy is used to power EVs, bringing down the overall carbon dioxide emissions in the country.

Sustainable renewable energy growth needs global cooperation. It needs standardisation and innovation. I am sure many countries are working on innovations to make renewable energy even more robust, get better plant load factors from solar plants, better outputs from wind energy, and looking at how waste can be converted to energy in a more economical manner.

I have no doubt in my mind that the government’s impetus to renewable energy, which a number of organisations are supporting, will lead to a better planet for the next generation, a better place to live in, and a better world for the children of tomorrow.