What happens when a bunch of intelligent and well-informed Members of Parliament get thrown into a room full of renewable energy experts?
A lot of pertinent questions are asked, solutions are discussed and plans of action to tap green energy get charted.
This, in nutshell, is what happened at the first day on Climate Parliament meet in Bangalore on Saturday.
“When both nuclear energy and wind energy each contribute 3% of the total energy production in the country, why is the government promoting and investing in nuclear energy, and not wind energy, which is almost entirely funded by the private sector?” This was one of the hard questions that came up during the meet.
It was V Subramanian, former secretary general, now heading Indian Wind Energy Association, who first brought up the fact about nuclear energy production vis-a-vis wind energy in India to the legislators.
“Nuclear energy is important. But wind energy is better. Since 2007, with almost 100% investment from the private sector, wind energy production is more than that of nuclear energy,” he said.
To this, Dr Anshu Bharadwaj, executive director of Centre for Study of Science, Technology & Policy (CSTEP), added that the nuclear sector receives huge investment from the Indian government and produces just about 3% of the total energy needs.
“Power produced from wind energy is also 3% presently after the production dropped since government took away most of the incentives,” Bharadwaj said.
This renewable energy expert, who also has had extensive administrative experience, having been an Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer for 15 years before joining CSTEP, was quick to add that he is not anti-nuclear energy.
Karnataka alone has a wind energy potential of 4.5 lakh MW, Dr Meera Sudhakar, senior research analyst, CSTEP, said quoting from their case study.
“Even modest calculations say producing 45,000 MW isn’t difficult. And we can tap it at a cost of ` 3.8 per Kwhr. Just by making use of the wastelands in Bellary, Chitradurga, Chamrajnagar, Chikballapur, Hassan and Koppal, 30,000 MW can be generated,” she said.
Tamil Nadu is the leading the way in wind energy production. They have managed to tap about 50% of their potential and 35% of their energy needs are being met through wind energy.
Nine years ago, the US, India and China were almost on par in wind energy tapping. The US was slightly ahead of India, and China was just behind us.
But China and the US surged ahead and presently are producing 75,000 MW and 65,000 MW respectively, when India is lagging behind at 20,000 MW.
The reason for this is lack of generation-based incentives from the government and long-term polices on wind and other renewable energy, said Ramesh Kymal, chairman and managing director of Gamesa Wind Turbines Pvt Ltd, which has manufactured and set up most of the wind energy units in India.
“NAPCC [National Action Plan on Climate Change] has set a target of 70,000 MW from wind. We have the manufacturing and technical capacity to manage it.
All we need is small policy changes,” Kymal said.