Renewable Energy in India and Australia

India is world’s 3rd largest consumer of electricity and world’s 3rd largest renewable energy producer with 38% (136 GW out of 373 GW) of total installed energy capacity in 2020 from renewable sources. On a per capita basis, India’s energy use and emissions are less than half the world average.

International Solar Alliance (ISA), an alliance of 121 countries was launched on 30 November 2015, by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the President of France, Francois Hollande. Since its opening a total of 200 countries, including Australia have joined the alliance. The primary objective of the alliance is to work for efficient consumption of solar energy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. The ISA aims to promote and develop solar power amongst its members and has the objective of mobilising US$1 trillion of investment by 2030.

India has a Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) sources and has been celebrating Akshay Urja Day (Renewable Energy Day) on 20th August every year, since 2004 to raise the awareness of the benefits of using renewable energy.

The Indian government has announced that no new coal-based capacity addition is required beyond the 50 GW under different stages of construction likely to come online between 2017 and 2022.

In 2020, India had 3 of the world’s top 5 largest solar parks, including world’s largest 2.255 GW  Bhadla Solar Park in Rajasthan and world’s second-largest solar park of 2 GW Pavagada solar Park Tumkur in Karnataka and 100 MW Kurnool solar park in Andhra Pradesh. India’s first and the largest floating solar power plant was constructed in 2017 at Banasura Sagar reservoir in WayanadKerala.

India is also the home to the world’s first and only 100% solar-powered airport, located at CochinKerala. India also has a wholly 100% solar-powered railway station in Guwahati, Assam.

Wind power in India accounts for 10% of India’s total installed power capacity and has a strong manufacturing base with 20 manufactures of 53 different wind turbine models of international quality up to 3 MW in size with exports to Europe, the United States, and other countries. As of 30 June 2018, the installed capacity of wind power in India was 34.293 GW. India has set an ambitious target to generate 60 GW of electricity from wind power by 2022.

India is globally the 5th for installed hydroelectric power capacity. As of 31 March 2020, India’s installed utility-scale hydroelectric capacity was 45.699 GW, or 12.35% of its total utility power generation capacity.

Australia

Australia has a very high potential for renewable energy. In 2020, Australia produced 62,917 gigawatt-hours of renewable energy, which accounted for 27.7% of Australia’s electricity production. Solar power in Australia is a fast-growing industry. As of December 2020, Australia’s over 2.66 million solar PV installations had a combined capacity of 20.2 GW. It is leading the world in per capita for rooftop PV solar.

 

Wind power was Australia’s leading source of clean energy in 2020, supplying 35.9% of the country’s clean energy and 9.9% of Australia’s overall electricity.

Hydro power supplied 23.3 % of Australia’s renewable electricity generation or 6.4% of Australia’s total electricity generation in 2020. Snowy 2.0 scheme will provide an additional 2 GW of dispatchable, on-demand capacity.

The Australian government has no renewable energy policy beyond the year 2020, raising concerns about environmental sustainability for future generations. The Liberal party’s energy minister, Angus Taylor, has also stated that the government will not be replacing the ‘Renewable Energy Target’ (RET) after 2020. However, there are a range of state government-based policies which are due to compensate for the lack of policies from the federal government.

In 2020, the ACT achieved its goal to source 100% of its electricity from renewable generators. The Tasmanian Government is on track to achieve its target of 100% renewable energy by 2022. The Victorian Government has set a Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) of 50% by 2030, which is also shared by the Queensland and the Northern Territory governments. Victoria also has a long-term target of net zero emissions by 2050, which is also shared by the New South Wales Government. The South Australian Government has a 75% renewable energy target by 2025. The Liberal State government says it expects the state will be “net” 100% renewables by 2030. Western Australia has yet to commit to a renewable energy target.

Coal dependence and exporting conflicts with the concept of Australia as a low-carbon economy. Electricity generation from coal remained high accounting for 58% of total generation in 2018–19. The Australian government has also announced new gas-fired plant in the Hunter Valley. As per the Australian Conservation Foundation estimates, the fossil fuel industry is subsidized to the tune of $7.7 billion annually. Australia is the fifth highest per capita emitter of greenhouse gases with 25.8 tonne CO2-e per person annually.

However, the big business is moving away from investment in fossil fuel. The mining giant Rio Tinto divested its coal assets in 2019. BHP is also dumping thermal coal from its global portfolio entirely and will also shift its oil and gas assets into a joint venture with Woodside. Sun Cable solar project located at Tenant Creek in NT will produce one fifth of Singapore’s energy requirement. It will generate 3 GW of energy that will be exported to Singapore via 3800 kms of HVDC cables. Another similar energy export project is AREH (Asian Renewable Energy Hub) located in East Pilbara, WA and is a mix of 15 GW of wind and solar power. It will power the Pilbara region and generate hydrogen for export to Japan and South Korea.                            Vijai Singhal

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