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Economic Survey 2022 | R&D key to transitioning to clean energy

The survey also calls for focus on developing technology that recycles, reuses and repurposes minerals, which are in short supply

January 31, 2022 / 03:18 PM IST

India’s investment in research and development (R&D) to switch to renewable energy sources faster will be the key to its climate-change mitigation plan, the Economic Survey 2022 released on January 31 said.

Transitioning from fossil fuel-based energy to clean energy with extensive battery storage would be a mineral-intensive game, unlike the traditional fuel-intensive energy sources.

Minerals and metals like copper, aluminium, iron, manganese and nickel are critical for developing clean energy sources like solar photovoltaic, wind and nuclear power. Lithium and graphite are among the minerals integral to building energy-storage technologies like large-scale batteries.

“The inelastic supply of minerals is already increasing the prices of minerals which is likely to shoot up even further in the future,” the survey said.

“With the developed countries as frontrunners of net-zero emission plans, it is important to avoid the risk of being a late-comer.  (It is essential) to encourage R&D to ensure effortless switch to renewable sources of energy. This may also include focus on developing technology that recycles, reuses and repurposes minerals.”

Also read: Economic Survey 2022: WPI continues to surge, India needs to be wary of imported inflation
The annual survey, which sums up the state of the economy in a financial years and also suggests the course for the next, said the recent surge in prices of natural gas in Europe on account of higher energy demand, coupled with cold spells, and slower winds to run wind turbines resulted in lower electricity output.

Also read: Economic Survey 2022 | India’s dependence on fossil fuel grows, coal leads the pack

“The energy crisis being experienced by Europe brings to the fore the need for having a diversified mix of sources of energy of which fossil fuels are an important part. Simultaneously, focus should be laid on building storage for intermittent electricity generation from solar PV and wind farms to ensure on-demand energy supply,” the survey tabled in the Lok Sabha by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.Follow our live blog for the latest on the Economic Survey 2022

Renewable energy

India’s share of renewable energy installed capacity (including hydro power) reached about 145 gigawatts as of October 31, 2021. It accounts for 38.27 percent of installed electricity capacity but only 26.96 percent of electric energy generation (for the month of August 2021).

The difference in the share of renewable energy in installed capacity and electricity generation is because of the variability in the sunshine hours or the extent of wind, which determines the utilisation of the installed capacity.

To facilitate faster renewable power evacuation and reshaping the grid for future requirements, Green Energy Corridor (GEC) projects have been initiated.

Also read: Economic Survey 2022: WPI continues to surge, India needs to be wary of imported inflation

The GEC project aims at synchronising electricity produced from renewable sources such as solar and wind with conventional power stations in the grid.

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is developing strategy and roadmap for installation of offshore wind projects off the coast of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.

The ministry has notified the wind-solar hybrid policy, providing a framework for the promotion of large grid connected wind-solar PV hybrid projects for optimal and efficient utilisation of transmission infrastructure and land, reducing the variability in renewable power generation and achieving better grid stability.

Economic Survey 2022: Here Are The Key Takeaways

The survey said India would grow 8-8.5 percent in 2022-23 while cautioning against rising oil prices, surging inflation, creeping interest rates in the US. It also identified employment, education and agriculture as the three key focus areas in the medium term.

Tanya Thomas is Mumbai-based independent journalist.
first published: Jan 31, 2022 03:18 pm