Saksham in brief – In accordance with the saying, ‘Today’s wastage is tomorrow’s shortage’

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Saksham in brief – In accordance with the saying, ‘Today’s wastage is tomorrow’s shortage’

Saksham (Samrakshan Kshamata Mahotsav) has been incepted and organized under the aegis of Petroleum Conservation Research Association to create awareness among the public as well as the industries the need for the conservation of energy and its judicial use. The themes are selected in alignment with the government energy policies and help in ensuring the partnership of the public in contributing to the successful implementation of the policies. This year too the theme chosen for the Sakhsham 2021 ‘Green and clean energy’ follows the government vision in convincing the public and the energy consumers to efficiently use fossil fuels by adapting to cleaner fuels. The drive focusses on educating the public on the adverse health and environmental impacts of increasing carbon footprints. It is better to have a clear understanding of green energy to appreciate and participate in the drive.

What is Green Energy? Green energy is not something new but is often misunderstood. Green energy is any energy that is generated from natural resources, such as sunlight, wind or water. Though it frequently comes from renewable energy sources, there are some differences between renewable and green energy. To be considered green energy, the resource should not produce pollution and avoid all sorts of activities that can be damaging to eco-systems like mining or drilling operations. To conclude, green energy is renewable and clean, meaning that they emit no or relatively less greenhouse gases and are often readily available. The six most common examples include 1) Solar Power, 2) Wind Power, 3) Hydro Power 4) Geothermal Energy, 5) Biomass, 6) Biofuel.

Why Green Energy? Green energy is important as it has lower or no adverse impact on the environment than the predominant fossil fuels. They are often readily available and even when for the full life cycle considered they release far less green greenhouse gases and few or low levels of air pollutants than fossil fuels. Another advantage is the stable energy prices as they are locally generated and are not affected by any geopolitical issues or disruptions in supply chains, unlike fossil fuels. Since most are locally generated, they are less dependent on the centralized sources where disruption can affect the supply chain and are flexible. They offer low-cost energy solutions in many parts of the world. India has lower solar power generation costs, and currently, it costs Rs 450 lakhs for 1MW solar power generation unit and is estimated that with new solar projects on the line the solar power cost will drop to Rs 1.9-2.3 per kWh in 2030. As our Honorable Minister, Mr Piyush Goyal has said.

“With transparency in renewables, the prices of renewables are coming down drastically”

Many benefits of green energy are already familiar to us, and yet we are reluctant or unwilling to switch over to green or renewable energy options due to concerns over the price as most of the renewable energy technologies are still costlier than the conventional fossil fuel-based ones. But the scenario is fast changing with capricious fossil fuel-based fuel prices, latest technology developments in tapping and storing the renewable resources happening and the focus of the world shifting more towards renewable or green energy, there is going to be a major change in the energy source pattern. The charts below explain how the cost of solar energy is falling over years due to technology development and is a cue of transition looming around.

Many major energy companies have diversified themselves towards renewable energy signifying the worldwide move towards green energy, and it is safe to assume that by 2040 a greater portion of our energy requirements would be met from green energy sources. It is worth quoting environmentalist Gloria Reuben.

“A transition to clean energy is about making an investment in our future”.

What are the limitations? One of the major reasons for the reluctance or the slow pace towards green energy is the under quantification of the benefits obtained by the use of green energy. Most of the time the direct or the primary benefits have quantified the savings in terms of the reduction in the fossil fuel consumed and the direct employment opportunities generated. Whereas, the non-energy-related benefits like the betterment of the environment quality improving public health, improving the reliability and security of the nation’s energy system mostly are not quantified while considering the benefits. Often, the attempts to portray the benefits of green energy usage thus get limited only to the monetary benefits and thus affect the decisions of the policymakers, especially when it comes to the local governing bodies. Another reason is the lack of proper infrastructure of aftersales support for green energy-based devices. The infrastructure support is yet to penetrate the market, and the lack of availability of the latest technology in this field makes the shift towards green energy a tighter target. The lack of awareness of the green energy devices and misinformation regarding the efficiency of the same has also resulted in the general public to be less receptive to the same. The idea that electric cars are having more maintenance requirements than petrol/diesel-based cars is just one example of these misconceptions. It is here that the events like Saksham play a major role ie, creating awareness among the general public and educating the youth of the country on the conservation of energy and the usage of green energy.

Where does India stand? India is one of the most fast-growing economies globally, which explicitly states that our energy consumption is also growing faster. According to the International Energy Agency data of 2018 India is responsible for nearly 7% of total global carbon emissions, ranked third next to China (28%), and the USA (15%) though we are at 21 st position on per capita basis.

At present, the major source of energy is coal and fossil fuels catering to about 61.8% of the energy demand. As the energy demand keeps increasing, we must switch to alternative renewable sources of fuel. In this way, the country will have a rapid and global transition to renewable energy technologies to achieve sustainable growth and avoid catastrophic climate change.

In recent years, there have been many changes in the country’s energy policies, and we have developed a sustainable path for our energy supply. Clean energy is less harmful and often cheaper. India aims to attain 175 GW of renewable energy, consisting of 100 GW from solar energy, 10 GW from bio-power, 60 GW from wind power, and 5 GW from small hydropower plants by the year 2022.

To reach the ambitious targets of generating 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022, it is essential that the Government creates 330,000 new jobs and livelihood opportunities. The development of renewable or green technologies in India requires a lot of strategical moves to promote the technologies for renewable energy along with other support policies like tax deduction, financial support to Research and Development agencies in developing cheaper technologies, supporting startups with a focus on green and clean energy applications, inviting foreign investment etc. These efforts will ensure that the Government targets on renewable energy usage will be met successfully. India is blessed with an abundance of renewable resources; coherent policy measures and an investor-friendly administration might be the key drivers to become a global leader in clean and green energy.

It gives immense pride for every Indian to say that India has been at the forefront of the world in the promotion of renewable energy. The country has been involved in expanding the utilization of clean energy sources to meet people’s energy demand. The Government has taken up several large-scale projects to ensure that green energy generation and utilization is promoted. There has been considerable progress in solar and wind power. The renewable sector has become considerably more attractive for foreign and domestic investors, and the country expects to attract up to USD 80 billion by 2021–2022. India has achieved a 5th position in the world in solar power deployment. Many of the government attempts to introduce solar power in remote areas have been quite successful. MNRE has been setting up solar pumps in rural areas and solar street lights where there is difficulty in accessing grid power. Solar home lighting systems have been improved by around 1.5 times, and solar lamps have been distributed to students. In wind power, India has the fourth-largest installed capacity in the world. As of 30th September 2020, the total installed capacity of India amounted to 38.124 GW compared to a target of 60 GW by 2022. Indian wind power sector has been growing successfully, thanks to the project completion abilities and a strong manufacturing system. Indian wind power sector has seen many global players and our manufacturing skills have helped us be one of the main exporters of turbine parts around the world. Similarly, there has been considerable improvement in the field of biofuels. The Government has established the National policy on biofuels in August 2018 and India is expected to achieve a power target of 10 GW by 2022 from biomass. The application of biomass as a cooking fuel will help to reduce the dependence on LPG – a fossil fuel derivative, especially in the rural and semi-urban areas. In addition to achieving energy requirements, it will also aid in skill development as the rural youth are getting trained in the installation and maintenance of the biogas plants. Another benefit is the prevention of axing of tons of trees for usage as firewood. Though we are on the path towards increasing the proportion of energy from sustainable sources, there are still many hurdles to overcome. Many of them are inherent to the particular renewable sector, and the others require a comprehensive policy, regulations in place and proper marketing strategy. The Government, along with private and foreign investments, have achieved many significant milestones, but we have a lot more to progress.

MRPL’s role is going green- MRPL is an energy company and is a front-runner among the Indian oil industry to acknowledge the necessity to produce green energy. MRPL is part of the Government of India’s new biofuel policy of 2018. To promote Biofuel application, the Government has initiated a new Biofuel policy with 20% ethanol blending in petrol and 5% biodiesel-blending by the year 2030. It is estimated that one crore litres of E-10 (10% ethanol and 90% regular petrol) saves around 20,000 ton of CO 2 emissions. This is in addition to the forex savings and other benefits like infrastructure development in rural areas, health benefits, and employment. The addition of ethanol to petrol enhances combustion performance and lowers greenhouse gas emissions like Carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide. Government has planned to set up 12 2G-Ethanol refineries across the country, and MRPL is proud to be a part of this Government scheme. MRPL is setting up a 2G-ethanol plant in Davangare, Karnataka, with a capacity of 60 kilolitres per day (KLPD) of bioethanol plant from lignocellulosic biomass. The plant is expected to be commissioned by 2024.

India is also part of the UN assembly resolution to address any annual increase in total CO2 emissions from the international aviation sector in the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). As part of the CORSIA guidelines, India will be moving on to Bio-jet as a part of aviation fuel, which will help achieve the global emission target of neutral carbon growth from 2020. It gives immense pride to MRPL for being selected by the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural gas for setting up the first Bio-ATF (Aviation Turbine Fuel) plant in India. MRPL’s R&D team is currently working with CSIR-IIP Dehradun to develop and scale up the technology for the Bio-ATF plant.

MRPL has installed solar panels capable of generating 6.063MW peak power. Also, MRPL has introduced electric vehicles for mobility within the refinery premises.

Responsibility of the public- As in any case, the success of any policies or measures lies in adopting them by the public. The concept of green and clean energy and the benefits of the same needs to be informed and shared with the people. The initiatives taken by the Government needs to reach the masses so that they can appreciate and take a conscious effort to be part of the same. Awareness needs to be imparted to the youth regarding the technological advancements and the potential job prospects. There is huge potential waiting to be tapped in the renewable energy sector, especially in the country’s rural regions where they can pivot the development of the region as a whole. Programs like Saksham play a lead role in educating the students and the public regarding the need to find out a sustainable solution to our energy needs. The campaign consisting of various activities for the industries, people and students have been doing its part to engrave in our minds and cultural values the ideas of conserving energy and adopting green and clean energy. So let’s put our best efforts to join hands with this initiation to respond to our honourable prime minister’s drive towards cleaner energy.

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