GS (M) Paper-3: “Infrastructure: Energy”
India’s green push needs the wind
India has the fifth largest power generation portfolio worldwide with a power generation capacity of 271.722 GW.
Economic growth, increasing prosperity, a growing rate of urbanisation and rising per capita energy consumption has widened access to energy in the country.
Wind Power in India:
- Wind energy is the largest renewable energy source in India.
- Wind energy accounts for nearly 70% (23.44 GW) of installed capacity, thereby making India the world’s fifth largest wind energy producer, after China, the United States, and Germany.
- India has currently utilised just about eight percent of its wind energy potential. It can easily grow at a fast rate, possibly even outpacing the growth in the solar energy sector.
- India’s wind capacity has grown from nearly 12 GW in 2009-10 to more than 27 GW now.
- Almost 10 GW of this capacity addition has come in the last four years during which most of the policy focus was on solar energy.
- To reduce reliance on fossil fuels, curb global warming, to protect the environment and to accelerate development of renewable energy in the country, the Government has set a target for renewable energy capacity to 175 GW by 2021-22.
- The renewable power target of 175 GW by 2022 will result in abatement of 326.22 million tons of CO2 eq per year.
- The target of 175 GW by 2022 which includes 60 GW from wind power, 100 GW from solar power, 10 GW of biomass power and 5 GW from small hydropower.
Achievable before 2022
- Latest outlook from Global Wind Energy Council shows that India would have close to 45 GW of installed wind energy by the year 2020 even in the most modest of growth scenarios.
- If pushed aggressively, it can go up to 67 GW by 2020. That means, India’s target of generating about 60 GW of electricity through wind energy can be realised two years in advance.
Wind power estimation:
- Recently, the National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE) in Chennai revised the estimate of wind power potential in the country.
- It was earlier estimated to be just over 102 GW if tapped at a height of 80 meters from the ground.
- It is now possible for Indian companies to install taller windmills that go up till a height of 100 meters.
- In that case, the potential for wind energy in India shoots up almost three times, reaching 302 GW.
- This is remarkable because more than half of this potential is located on wastelands.
- To accelerate growth in wind sector, Government, in January 2015, announced a separate Wind Mission under the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC).
- There are also plans to increase the wind energy generation target to 100 GW by 2022 from the current 60 GW.
- The government also announced incentives for the industry to repower their existing wind turbines.
- Most of the windmills in the country are of low capacities and are harnessing energy that is far less than the potential.
- As part of the incentive, the companies would get assistance from the government to replace the existing turbines with those of higher capacities.
Inconsistency in policy making:
- The government has taken various policy measures to promote the wind sector. But the clarity and focus seem to be missing.
- Recently, the government decided to withdraw 50% of accelerated depreciation benefit to the industry from next year.
- The generation-based incentives are also being withdrawn. These steps are not particularly helpful for the growth of the wind industry.
- The industry is looking forward to a new renewable law that would bring in policy clarity and remove uncertainties in the sector.
- Ever since the government unveiled its ambitious plans to generate 100 GW of solar electricity by the year 2022, solar energy has been the showpiece of India’s renewable energy policy.
- Wind energy has been reduced to secondary, despite the fact that it was an early mover in the renewable energy sector and even today has an installed capacity of about four times more than solar energy.
- In the last one year, more than 3 GW of solar capacity was added in the country, taking the total installed capacity to almost 8 GW. It is still a tall order to attain the target of 100 GW in the next six years.
- The wind industry, which had been leading India’s renewable energy push since the end of the 1990s, is now getting lesser attention than solar.
- The wind energy sector needs the right kind of attention from the government in order to achieve its true potential.
- Wind is placed in a much better situation and is already fairly well established, while solar is still in its infancy. But solar cannot be the only solution to India’s energy problems.
- The answer has to come from both solar and wind. Thus Government has to view through the lens of Hybrid (combined solar and wind) generation policy with equal importance.
GS (M) Paper-2: “Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability”
GS (M) Paper-2: “Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.”
The cost of Internet Shutdowns
A new report from the Centre for Technology and Innovation at the Brookings Institute shows that India and Iraq share the position of reporting the highest number of incidents involving government mandated shutdown of internet access.
- Figures indicate that 11 Indian states have forced 37 internet shutdowns in the past two years.
- When responding to protests or other public developments, many police officials and district administrators across India are making internet shutdowns as part of their standard operating procedure.
- They use the vague legal provision to issue orders to telecom providers to suspend mobile internet access across districts, and sometimes the entire state.
Why is it done?
- India also joins Algeria, Iraq and Uganda in the list of countries where internet services has been suspended even on the grounds of preventing potential cheating in exams.
What is its legality?
Most of these disruptions are being carried out by state government agencies, often under the terms of broad legal powers — such as
- Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure — derived from 19th century British Raj era provisions. It was meant to empower police units and district administration officials to enforce curfew and confiscate property.
- The Telegraph Act — via Section 5(2) — provides for a more specific legal power to restrict or otherwise interfere with the transmission of messages on the direction of the Union or state governments.
- The Information Technology Act, provides for a proportional, limited power in favour of the Central government — and state government officials in emergency cases — to issue individual web content blocking orders when certain grounds are met.
What are the impacts?
- Disrupting internet access causes immediate economic harms beyond the e-commerce sector and even traditional brick and mortar businesses rely on internet communications today. The report found that India suffered an estimated national economic loss equivalent to $968 million due to internet shutdowns.
- The Digital India programme of the Union government seeks to improve the delivery of governance with the assistance of the internet. Therefore ensuring unhindered access to the internet should be a governmental priority at all levels, because a disruption in internet access would interfere with governance and the lives of citizens.
- The telegraphs were reserved to the Union List of the Constitution and also there exists a specific Central legislation already on this topic. Apart from this, the mobile companies are licensees of the Union government and this trend of shutdown orders by state government agencies undermines the division of power between the Union and the states.
- The Supreme Court of India in its landmark Shreya Singhal judgment recognised the internet as an essential medium to further our constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression. So it would be a breach into our Fundamental Right to shut the internet down.
- Also Section 5(2) of Telegraphy Act lacks defined procedure when it comes to internet shutdowns. It was originally used to justify the tapping and interception of phone calls, until the Supreme Court in 1998 held it would be unconstitutional if the government did not specify additional, clearer rules on the process of issuance and safeguards regarding such interception orders. It would be reasonable to expect a similar treatment for the power to suspend internet services.
- Therefore the best path forward maybe action and policy clarity from the Union government, upholding its responsibilities under our federal legal framework than relying on the courts. Unhindered access to the internet has to become the normal in the everyday life of all Indians.