Gujarat must tap into its immense offshore wind potential to attain energy security

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Gujarat must tap into its immense offshore wind potential to attain energy security

Gujarat must tap into its immense offshore wind potential to attain energy security. Winds of Change: Learnings for the Indian Offshore Wind Energy Sector In India, a working paper examining the potential of scaling offshore wind as rapidly as solar energy in India, was jointly launched by World Resources Institute (WRI) India and National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), today. The launch was part of a two-day annual event Accelerating Clean Energy in India, or ACE 2022, organized by WRI India in the national capital, to build a dialogue on the fast-changing energy landscape of the country.

Weeks before the United Nations Convention on Climate Change, or COP as it is popularly known, meets in Sharm-El-Shaikh in Egypt, leaders across the energy sector emphasized the need to enhance India’s share of renewable energy, both to mitigate climate change and to attain energy security at ACE 2022.

Speaking at the event, Mr. Ghanshyam Prasad, Chairman, Central Electricty Authority said, “India must focus on energy security, energy independence and energy reliability to the consumers, even while focusing on energy transition.”

In a message shared with the delegates before the event, Ms. Vandana Kumar IAS, Additional Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), said, India is on the cusp of an energy transition. She said, “India stands fourth in renewable energy (RE) installed capacity today. The RE capacity tripled over the last eight years, while solar has increased by 25 times. But we are not resting on our laurels. We have achieved this due to a bouquet of curated policy and program efforts, and structural changes.”

One of ACE 2022’s focus was to discuss the growth of renewables other than solar. Recent advancements in offshore wind technology, could enable it to become cheaper, and possibly viable for larger swathes of global populations. In India, waters off the coasts of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu alone hold over 70 GW of wind energy capacities.The working paper analyzed how offshore wind can play a prominent role in India’s energy transition, especially given the country’s target of 500 GW RE by 2030 across different technologies.

Gujarat alone holds 36 GW of offshore wind capacity, and recent studies have identified ports in the state that require development.  While high capital expenditure has been cited for the lacklustre response to the Union government’s letter of interest for a one GW project off the Gulf of Khambhat in Gujarat, it is also true that a conducive manufacturing and supply chain ecosystem requires to be developed at entry ports for offshore wind to become feasible.

Moderating a panel discussion on offshore wind energy, Ms. Kajol, Senior Manager, Energy Program, WRI India, who is also one of the authors of the working paper said, “Contracting certainties, possible offshore wind purchase obligations and creative financing models are required to enable offshore wind energy attain economies of scale. Updating and improving the 2015 National Offshore Wind Energy Policy could serve as a foundation for this sector.”

Speaking at the event, Mr. Jarnail Singh, Deputy Director, MacArthur Foundation India, said, “Global philanthropy is focusing on ensuring the world’s vulnerable communities overcome extreme weather events. We have already begun to face them and transitioning to cleaner forms of energy is a vital component to mitigate climate change. India’s leadership in achieving this transition, which is also just and equitable, will doubtless be an anchor for the global economy and society.”

Other sessions at ACE included a discussion on ways to improve the role of states’ RE agencies in India’s energy transition. Panelists recalled the early days of the renewables sector, and the vital role the government played by setting up State Nodal Agencies almost a decade ago, when nascent RE technologies were being piloted across the country in diverse settings. But they also impressed upon a shift in their role and focus required for these agencies to better serve the needs of the RE sector that has rapidly evolved.

Recollecting ACE’s history and purpose, Mr. Bharath Jairaj, Executive Director, Energy program,  WRI India, said, “ACE was conceived as a space to discuss ongoing and emerging research streams on global energy transitions, and their implications on India. In its third edition after a break during the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021, we at WRI India are looking forward to these discussions and much more, to ensure India lives up to its pledges on carbon neutrality, renewables, and Sustainable Development Goals.”

Day two of ACE 2022 would include sessions on creating effective finance models for newer forms of renewables technology, like Distributed Renewable Energy, or DRE; pathways to deep decarbonize heavy industries, and tools that power distribution companies could use to effectively handle the impending surge in energy demand from electric vehicles on their grids.

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