Greening Of Energy Landscape Set To Accelerate

By N Venu December 31, 2023

Sustainability Trends 2024: A robust clean energy ecosystem powered by renewables with a holistic approach encompassing strategic partnerships and progressive policies is taking shape

Greening Of Energy Landscape Set To Accelerate
In the pursuit of energy goals, India is set to surpass the 4 gigawatts (GW) mark in rooftop solar capacity additions in the fiscal year 2024. Shutterstock

As we draw the curtain on 2023, the world stares at the rapid depletion of natural resources and imminent climate changes impacting the ecosystem. Global average temperatures were already inching above pre-industrial levels (+1.8°C), and greenhouse gas emissions reached a new high (57.4 GtCO2e in the previous recorded year). This ongoing phenomenon has brought the world together to phase down fossil fuel usage for a sustainable future.

Throughout the past year, the nation has experienced a series of pivotal developments in the energy sector, marked by strategic collaborations, impactful policy announcements, and the attainment of significant milestones.

Noteworthy alliances include a groundbreaking partnership with the United States to advance clean energy initiatives, a mutually beneficial collaboration with Saudi Arabia on Renewable Energy Investment (green hydrogen and electrical interconnection) and a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the United Arab Emirates, emphasising increased investment and cooperation across diverse sectors, particularly in the realm of clean energy technology.

On the policy landscape, momentous strides have been taken towards achieving the target of 500 GW of renewables by 2030. These range from the production and utilisation of green hydrogen to advocating mandatory battery energy storage at renewable projects with the launch of the Viability Gap Fund.

In the pursuit of energy goals, India is set to surpass the 4 gigawatts (GW) mark in rooftop solar capacity additions in the fiscal year 2024. Today, the nation boasts an impressive 179 GW of installed energy derived from renewable sources. These multifaceted developments underscore India's commitment to a cleaner, more sustainable energy future. The grid has to evolve to integrate large, variable amounts of renewables at one end and, on the other, electrify anything. 

Heading into the new year, here are the key trends and transformative developments that will change the Indian energy landscape in 2024 and go a long way in addressing the burgeoning energy needs of 1.5 billion people. 

Push for solar solutions 

Solar is playing a key role in revolutionising India's energy ecosystem. Thanks to cutting-edge technologies, solar panels have increased efficiency and cost-effectiveness, driving the widespread adoption of solar installations across the country, which will continue to grow.

Beyond advancements in solar technology, the impact will extend to strategic initiatives such as domestic manufacturing of panels and power electronics, developing solar parks, and rooftop installations. In 2024, we will continue to see a thrust on bolstering the overall solar energy capacity and technological advancements.

Driving wind energy advancements 

Nearly a quarter of the 500 GW of renewable generation capacity by 2030, is slated to come from wind power. And 2024 holds promise of being in the growth section in the S-curve when it comes to offshore wind. The government's focus on expanding offshore wind energy will open up more avenues for investment and technological advancements.

Electrification of mobility

In addition to India being on the fast track to 100 percent electrification of its rail system, it has also set targets of 30 percent EV penetration across the country. Following the initial proliferation of electric two-wheelers, we have witnessed increased confidence in users and manufacturers of passenger vehicles. 2024 will also see several state action plans to electrify their bus systems and consequently invest in upgrading the ancillary energy systems.

Green Hydrogen

Recently, the Indian government announced a Rs 400 crore plan for green hydrogen R&D towards developing a research ecosystem that can commercialise green hydrogen in the country. These developments are pivotal, as in 2024 they will become foundational in expanding green hydrogen's viability across various sectors, including storage, industrial processes, and transportation.

 Energy Storage

With large-scale intermittency in clean energy generation, grids need to become more flexible and stronger. Energy storage is essential for maintaining grid flexibility through power generation surpluses and deficits. We see a flow of investments towards improving battery technologies and exploring grid-scale energy storage solutions to mitigate the intermittent availability of renewable sources.

HVDC links: Making the grid stronger and more flexible 

Electricity will be the backbone of the future energy system, and this will mean that the grid has to be reliable, flexible, and secure. With increasing electrification of loads and decarbonisation of generation, the complexity of the grid will also increase. While HVDC has already been leveraged to transfer clean energy over long distances with minimal losses, in the coming months we will see a wider application of HVDC, from meshed grids to city-infeed.

The climate challenge demands collaboration and collective leadership 

The collaborative initiatives on the local and global stages will continue to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, low-carbon future. Across countries, governments and corporations, corporations and academia, joint research projects, technology transfer programmes, and capacity-building initiatives will flourish. These collaborations align with the broader commitment to cooperation, emphasising the interconnected nature of energy sustainability challenges.

As India continues its voyage towards net zero, these trends will play a vital role in creating a robust clean energy ecosystem powered by renewables, with a holistic approach encompassing strategic partnerships, progressive policies, and the realisation of ambitious targets.

(N Venu is MD & CEO, India and South Asia, Hitachi Energy.)