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Going by the news items, it is obvious that there’s a huge thrust on renewables-based power in India, the National Solar Mission being the most high-profile example.


But it’s a bit funny, and I’ll tell you why.

Most power in India is produced by coal and hydroelectric power – both of which are available in plenty within India (yes, we import about 10% of our coal requirements, but we actually have reserves that will last us about 100 years at current levels of consumption). On the other hand, we have much less oil and import about 70% of our requirements (though it is nice to know that there have been some significant oil finds in the recent past by Cairn Energy and more recently by Reliance).

If our dependence on foreign countries is much higher for oil than for electricity, one would expect an equally high thrust to be provided by the government for the progress of biofuels as it is provided for renewable electricity. But I do not find an equal thrust. True, there are blending mandates and slightly increased buy-in rates for both ethanol and biodiesel, but nothing of the sort that is being provided to solar PV and thermal where the government plans to provide incentives that is almost 80% the total cost of production.

I am aware that the biofuels domain is going through a troubled phase. But so is solar, and there are problems in practically every domain of renewable energy, and that’s why the government’s intervention is needed in the first place, else the so called “free-market” can take care of all these themselves!

What are your thoughts?