Since the 1970s if not earlier, renewables were touted as the energy of the future, but remained so for decades. However, that future has now arrived, and renewables are not merely a niche, but a mainstay of electricity supply, and growing in importance. What has changed? On the supply side, technologies have improved, most notably for solar and wind power. On the demand side, a Business As Usual model based on fossil fuels has proven limited in its ability to feed a growing appetite for electricity. Add to this is the pressure for sustainability, with environmental pressures ranging from local pollution (air and water) to global (carbon and climate change). Ultimately, the supply and demand have intersected moving renewable power towards viability.
While there is much enthusiasm and support for renewables in India, especially at the central government level, there are reasons for caution and improved policies when we consider the long-term plans for renewable energy. More than just the economics, there are issues of scalability, grid integration, consumer acceptance if not participation, etc., in addition to worrying about the broader transformation of the grid that renewables will entail.
The scope of this volume is broad, as demonstrated by the topics covered in the chapters (sole or lead authors listed below). While the focus is Renewable Energy, a sub-text of this work is the broader transformation the power system needs, not just from an economics or regulation point of view but also grid design, operations, and architecture. Click here to read more.
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This chapter is a part of Brookings India’s edited book, “Blowing Hard or Shining Bright? Making Renewable Power Sustainable in India” To view the preface and table of contents, click here.
RAHUL TONGIA is a Fellow (non-resident) with Brookings India and the Brookings Institution. He is also an Adj. Professor at Carnegie Mellon University, where he was on the faculty for over dozen years, and is the Tech. Advisor to the India Smart Grid Task Force, Govt. of India. His research is interdisciplinary, focusing on technology and policy for sustainable human development, with domain expertise in energy/electricity and IT/telecom.
To change mindsets, you have to start at school. It’s not just about reading and writing and counting. It’s about developing a social and political consciousness. You want them to have a good life.