Team Leader, Sustainable Partnership for Rooftop Solar Acceleration in Bharat (SUPRABHA-The World Bank SBI Initiative) | Executive Director, Strategy & Transactions, Ernst & Young India
India’s energy transition journey has been fueled with some significant strides over the years. In its quest to ensure power for all, the country is pursuing an ambitious target of deploying renewable energy (RE), notably solar. It has boosted energy efficiency through innovative programmes such as replacing incandescent light bulbs with LEDs under the UJALA scheme. At the same time, it is addressing the critical issue of air pollution, which has resulted in serious health problems among citizens. Providing 80 million households with liquefied petroleum gas connection under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana scheme1, has helped reduce the exposure from biomass cooking stoves, a major cause of respiratory diseases.
India’s target of renewable energy capacity is getting ambitious with each passing year. The aim to install 175 GW of RE by 2022 was increased to 227 GW by 2022 and 275 GW by 2027, two years ago. Finally, a new target of 450 GW to be achieved by 2030 was set last year. While these ambitions have laid the foundation for an effective energy transition in the country, certain critical elements need major reforms to ensure continuous progress in the growth of renewables. These include auction design, grid infrastructure enhancement, increased foreign investments and the financial health of the power distribution companies (DISCOMs).
An intercontinental grid, like 'One Sun One World One Grid' (OSOWOG), can be instrumental in achieving this goal through increased deployment and trading of RE. The initiative will help to realise “three transitions” of energy development. These include energy production from fossil fuel to clean energy dominance, energy allocation from local balance to cross-border and global distribution and the transition from coal, oil, and gas in energy consumption to electric-centric consumption.
The OSOWOG initiative is based on the concept that ‘The Sun Never Sets’ – a constant at some geographical location, globally, at any given point of time. The aim is to achieve near zero marginal cost with harmonised distribution of electricity from surplus to deficit countries. This will substantially enhance global energy security, particularly for the 700 million people without electricity. It will also help achieve better accessibility and cleaner RE to an estimated 2 billion women using non-renewable energy for cooking.
The OSOWOG is expected to positively impact poverty dynamics in India and globally, and mitigate water, sanitation, food and other scarcities, thereby helping to address socioeconomic challenges, and enhance environment sustainability. To access the cost-effective finance and to encourage technology innovation for OSOWOG, India has suggested establishing a World Solar Bank (WSB), headquartered in the countryi and expressed its desire to be a lead member (taking a 30% stake).
Sustainable Partnership for Rooftop Solar Acceleration in Bharat (SUPRABHA) is a technical assistance programme of the World Bank through SBI. It works with 17 Partner States allocated by MNRE, towards establishing and enabling an ecosystem for accelerated deployment of grid connected Rooftop Solar in the country.
The program has created widespread impact in the solar sector and achieved various milestones in a short time and trained over 1500 stakeholders. One of its most significant achievements is securing the demand aggregation worth 372 MW, across 4325 sites, along with achieving record low tariffs. A vendor management portal, a data room, and a Central Monitoring Centre have been set up in several states and a National Online Rooftop Solar Data Monitoring Center (NORS-DMC) is established at the National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE).
The National Renewable Energy Data Centre (NREDC) is a MNRE initiative to build an integrated platform that will act as a single source of RE data, achieve standardisation benefits, and enhance capabilities for formulating futuristic policies. The Ministry is also promoting distributed renewable energy (DRE) applications in rural areas to scale up livelihoods in solar by way and plans to involve the private sector.
Furthermore, to accelerate the adoption of Electric Vehicles (EVs), the SUPRABHA TA programme is supporting Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Management (EEREM) Centre, Delhi, to establish EV charging infrastructure; conduct potential assessment; infrastructure framework; and facilitate the deployment of 100-150 MW of DRE for EV charging. Evidence-based policy for facilitating DISCOMs in accelerating rooftop solar deployment is an initiative to help them create fundamental processes and systems with a structural and functional architecture and strengthening corporate governance.
SUPRABHA has launched awareness programmes via TV, radio and billboards to convince millions of Indians about the economic and social advantages of a solar rooftop project and make it a way of life. A gamut of stakeholders, including policymakers, banks, Discoms, skill development organisations, developers and urban local bodies have been roped in the countdown to fulfilling the Vision 2022 and build a sustainable future.