Clean Power

Published on April 11th, 2014 | by Mridul Chadha


Indian Political Parties Recognise Renewable Energy As An Election Issue

April 11th, 2014 by  

The largest democratic process in the world kicked off on April 07, 2014. Over 800 million people are eligible to vote to choose their representatives for the lower house of the Indian parliament. It is only apt that the major political parties, and an attractive newcomer, sought to address a critical issue like renewable energy in their national agendas. india flag

Manifestos of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Indian National Congress, and the Aam Aadmi Party have been closely scrutinised by the political pundits and the general public. While neither of the three present any specific actions regarding expansion and promotion of renewable energy, it is heartening to see that the issue has found a noticeable mention in their respective manifestos.

The frontrunner in this election, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has stated that it would promote development of hydro power infrastructure without disturbing the local population and environment. The party has also stated that it would expand the ambitious National Solar Mission.

The Indian National Congress boasted that it aggressively implemented the National Solar Mission and would continue to do so at a rate so that the target to implement 22,000 MW capacity is achieved before the targeted year of 2022. The party also promised to implement a National Wind Energy Mission to promote the expansion of wind energy infrastructure in the country.

The Aam Aadmi Party has promised policies to promote decentralized renewable energy infrastructure.

So, why have these political parties suddenly woken up to the idea of including renewable energy into their poll promises. There are several reasons for this.

The BJP has stated that it would implement the National Solar Mission in an even more aggressive manner than it is being currently implemented. Their promise has some weight too. Their Prime Ministerial candidate Mr Narendra Modi launched the most aggressive state solar policy in the country a year before the central government (led by the INC) announced the national solar mission. Five years on, Gujarat remains the leader in solar power capacity among all states in India.

The INC claimed that it led the implementation of the National Solar Mission. Riding on the success of this mission, the party promised the National Wind Energy Mission which has been in the works for few months now. The implementation of the National Solar Mission has, however, slowed down over the last few months. It was under the Congress-led government that incentives for the wind energy sector were abolished and later partially reinstated. The government, and the party, seems to have learnt its lesson pretty quickly.

The policy proposed by the AAP mirrors its underlying principle, decentralisation of governance. The party promises to work towards promoting off-grid and decentralized renewable energy systems which would prove to be a boon for the rural as well as the urban population.

Apart from the party-specific reasons behind including these promises, there are other national realities that these parties had to address not only to address the issue of renewable energy but electricity as a whole.

India witnessed the largest blackouts in global history in July 2012. The blackouts affected a population of more than 620 million. A rare conjugation of several transmission lines being down for maintenance and a rather common occurrence of state governments not heeding to the directions of the central regulators were to blame for the blackouts. The blackouts were a strategic eye opener. It highlighted the collapse of not only the energy infrastructure in the country but also the failure of governance, across parties.

The second eye opener was the AAP making the issue of increasing electricity rates an election issue at the assembly elections in national capital Delhi. The newly formed party forced its competitors to state policies directed at lowering electricity tariffs for the household consumers. These policies included implementation of net metering and rooftop solar power systems.

The issue of rising electricity tariffs would remain for the foreseeable future as the state utilities are now required to file for tariff revisions every year. And renewable energy, especially solar energy, gains significance in this aspect as solar energy tariffs have been rapidly declining over the last few years while electricity based on coal and natural gas have been increasing.

Clearly, these parties have included the promises that suit them the best and project them in favorable light in front of the voters. Nonetheless, it is heartening to see that there has been an effort to promote the crucial issue of renewable energy which directly and indirectly impacts other critical issues of energy independence, energy equality, and economic growth.

Note: The author has voted for the Indian National Congress and Aam Aadmi Party in previous elections. 

Image Credit: Kumar Nav | CC BY 2.0

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About the Author

currently works as Head-News & Data at Climate Connect Limited, a market research and analytics firm in the renewable energy and carbon markets domain. He earned his Master’s in Technology degree from The Energy & Resources Institute in Renewable Energy Engineering and Management. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering. Mridul has a keen interest in renewable energy sector in India and emerging carbon markets like China and Australia.

  • V.G.Abraham Solartroniks

    This story is very true, and at present in India, one of the main reason that the talk is that the present Government is going to be out of power, is because the last 10 years when they were in power, the country has not seen growth in terms of satisfaction by the people. The people were always exposed to corruption scams and likewise. By electing a new government, the people are hoping that the there is will development in every field including and especially Solar and Renewable energy projects. Keeping the world updated about novel Solar and Renewable energy news and products by blogging on solartroniksdotcom

    • Bob_Wallace

      Comments are welcome.

      Spamming your site is not.

  • Offgridmanpolktn

    One political discussion that we can hope to be part of the 2014 and ’16 elections here in the US.
    Please contact your local and national representatives so they realize that these issues are a priority for all of us.

    • Thanks for that. Agreed. Politicians will make this a priority when voters show that it is one of their priorities.

      • Offgridmanpolktn

        My pleasure. May I add a note for those that may think they are to busy to write every one individually, my easy way to do it. Have a separate email address to sign up for alerts and notifications from several organizations on this subject. The ACLU, Sierra club, CREDO, Union of Concerned Scientists, EPA, US Presidents notification service, are some remembered off hand. Then take fifteen or twenty minutes once or twice a week to check this account to add your name to petitions and or submit pre-written letters to the specific congressmen or senators making current decisions on related issues.
        Being a handicapped single father of two in grade school, while running a off grid homestead, think it is fair to make the claim that life keeps me as busy as most. Have found using this method helps to keep up to date with the issues, and by doing it when the world or events get me down, have found a means to lift the spirits by doing my small part to institute change.
        You only need to take the time to sign up for a few of these groups, because as you help out on different causes others will get in touch.
        So once again please do any little bit that you can towards this, once enough of us speak up the world will have to listen.

        • V.G.Abraham Solartroniks

          Thanks. I fully agree with you. That is why out of my own philosophy to make this world a better place to live, I do take time off regularly and blog about Solar and Renewable energy through my blogging site Solartroniksdotcom

  • Will E

    For economical reasons Solar is the big winner in India, and everywhere. endless supply.
    for ECO reasons Solar is the big winner.
    for people prosperity reasons Solar is the big winner,
    for reliability reasons,
    and there are 50 more reasons Solar is the big winner.
    what is the output of a 1 kWh solar installed.
    must be about 4 kWh. huge profits to be made with Solar in India.

  • JamesWimberley

    Other reasons for the welcome political consensus for renewables is the dire condition of the current centralised system and grid. India easily holds the world record for largest blackout (620 million people). The coal sector is in crisis. India’s ambitious nuclear plans do not look feasible – India has brilliant scientists and large numbers of competent engineers, but is a long way from the skills ecosystem and authoritarian discipline that makes China’s nuclear programme uniquely feasible. Imported oil and gas are unaffordable. Renewables aren’t the best option for meeting the demands of the voters for power tomorrow – they are the only option.

    • Calamity_Jean

      I understand that many people in India have diesel or gasoline (petrol) generators to provide power during blackouts. Whichever party wins the election should consider promoting rooftop solar with battery backup as a substitute for generators. Solar with batteries would cost more to buy but almost nothing to operate, and would eliminate the noise and fumes that generators produce. If excess power from rooftop solar was fed back into the grid (net metering), it might even reduce the number of blackouts.

      Renewables aren’t the best option for meeting the demands of the voters for power tomorrow – they are the only option.

      Yes, absolutely. Rooftop solar takes weeks to install, large-scale solar farms take months, wind farms take two or three years. Nuclear takes five years minimum and often more. India shouldn’t wait that long.

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