By R.K. Singh, Union Cabinet Minister for Power and New and Renewable Energy.

Electricity has emerged as an essential requirement – almost as necessary as air or water.  Nothing runs without it – whether it is lights or ventilators or lifts or radars.  Electricity is essential for industrialisation, growth, security and prosperity of a nation.
Before 2014, India was energy deficit – we did not generate enough electricity to meet our requirements and load shedding was endemic.  The electricity grid had not reached all corners of the country - the grids were essentially regional grids with very limited inter-regional transfer capability.  More than 18000 villages and hundreds of thousands of hamlets and near 29 million households had no access to electricity.  This was the situation even 67 years after independence.  The government under Prime Minister Modi decided to change this because no meaningful development was possible without electricity; and what we see today is a total transformation.  We have added 152 GW of generation capacity; transforming our country from power deficit to power surplus.  We added 1,52,000 circuit  Kms. of transmission lines connecting the whole country into one grid with a capacity to transfer more than 100 GW (100000 MW) from one corner of the country to the other.  We have extended the Grid to Leh; now we are extending it to Nubra and Zanskar valleys.
The next challenge was access.  The Prime Minister announced from the ramparts of the Red Fort on the 15th August, 2015, the target of connecting every unelectrified village and every hamlet with electricity within 1000 days.  This was a huge challenge; what had not been done in 67 years was sought to be done in a thousand days.  However, we took up this challenge and we achieved the target of connecting all such villages and all hamlets in 987 days – 13 days before the deadline.  This was a transformational moment.  The International Energy Agency called this the biggest development in the energy sector in 2018.  The last village to be electrified was Leisang, Manipur, which has had its name embedded in the history of electricity.
Connecting the villages was not enough; the ambition of Prime Minister Modi was to connect every house and for this, he launched the programme “Saubhagya” on the 17th of September, 2017 to connect every household.  We connected 26.3 million houses in a span of 18 months. We asked all the States to make sure that no willing household is left out.  By the 19th of March, 2019, we had received certificates from every State to this effect.  We asked the States to cross-check again and to ensure that no household is left out.  This was also done.  This was the largest expansion of access in such a time frame in any country in the history of the power sector in the world.
The Distribution system needed to be strengthened so as to ensure that all the newly connected villages / hamlets and houses received reliable and quality power.  The Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) and the Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS) launched in 2015 had been helping the States strengthen their Distribution system in the rural and the urban areas respectively.  The expansion of access necessitated that these schemes be implemented on a mission mode.  We did so. We constructed 2781 new sub-stations; upgraded 3920 33/11 KV sub-stations; laid / replaced 7 and half lac. Circuit Kms of HT and LT Lines; provided 6,69,212 new transformers; laid 1,28,402 Circuit Kms of Agriculture Feeders; 68000 circuit kms of AB cables etc for strengthening the Distribution system across all the States.  Where extra funds were needed over and above those provided under the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) and the Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS), we made this available as extra outlay along with Saubhagya.  The net result of all the above has been that the availability of power in the rural areas which was about 12.5 hours in 2015 is now 22.5 hours; and in the urban areas, the average availability across the nation is 23 and half hours.
We have brought about changes in systems to increase efficiency; reduce costs, and increase reliability.  We put in place the SCED (Security Constrained Economic Despatch) – under which power from the most efficient plant is despatched first – we flexibalized the utilisation of Coal so that more efficient plants get more coal; made the Letter of Credit mandatory for the despatch of power; reduced the rate of late payment surcharge to bring it in tune with the lower interest rates, put in place Rules For Rights of Consumers; allowed DISCOMs to exit from PPAs after 25 years; reduced the lock in period for investments in transmission and Renewables; allowed utilisation of surplus transmission capacity under an LTA for Renewables and many other reforms – listing of all of which will require more space than this article permits.
Energy transition was another challenge before us. The global warming caused by Green House Gases / CO2 emissions has led to rising concern around the world; increasing the pressure to shift to clean energy.  In COP 21 in Paris countries pledged their Nationally Determined Contributions to the movement for combating climate change in terms of transitioning to cleaner forms of energy and reduction of the emission intensity of their economies.  India pledged that by 2030, 40% of its established capacity would come from non-fossil fuel sources.  In parallel, the Prime Minister Modi announced that India will endeavour to establish 175 GW of Renewable Energy capacity by end of 2022 – this was almost about 5 times the existing Renewable Energy capacity in 2014; but we are close to achieving it. Our Renewable Energy capacity today is 147 GW (including hydro-power which is included in the RE basket the world over); and we have 63 GW under construction.  This adds upto 210 GW.  Our total established capacity today is 388 GW from all sources.  Our established capacity and the capacity under construction add upto 210 GW - already more than 50 percent of our total capacity.  We are already a world leader in renewables.  Bloomberg categorised us as the most attractive destination for investment in renewables in the world.
And we are innovating.  We are adding the solar - wind - hybrid with storage.  We have already had successful bids for Round The Clock Green Power and Peaking Power with Green Energy. We are shortly going to come out with a bids for 1000 MWH of battery storage. This is 2½ times the biggest established storage capacity in the world. We propose to set-up a 10000 MW of Renewable Energy Park in Ladakh with 14000 MW hrs of storage.  The transmission bid for evacuation of power from Ladakh is going to come out shortly. 
In COP 21 in Paris, India had also pledged that it will bring down the emission intensity of its economy by 33% as compared to 2005 levels.  We are well on our way to achieving this. Under the LED Programme (UJALA), over 1.15 billion LEDs have been sold since 2015, leading to a reduction of CO2 emissions by 171 million tonnes per annum. Under the PAT (Perform Achieve & Trade) - the Energy Efficiency Programme for Industry, we have achieved a reduction of CO2 emissions by 86 million tonnes per annum by 2020.  Under our programme for energy efficiency in appliances – the star-rating programme, we have achieved a reduction of 53 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per annum.  By 2019, we had already achieved an emission intensity reduction of almost 28%.
We have reformed our investment policies to allow upto 100% FDI in the RE sector via the automatic route and brought RE into priority sector lending.  The sector has attracted over USD 70 billion in investment and offers an opportunity of another USD 227 billion in generation alone.  Since 2017, annual investments in RE in India have exceeded those in fossil fuels.
Operational parameters have been reformed to enhance the ease of doing business.  In 2020, during COVID-19, the ‘must-run’ status for RE Projects were maintained, preventing curtailment unless grid stability is at risk.  Ensuring payment security with demand aggregation through bids by intermediary procurers such as SECI, NTPC and NHPC on behalf of states, dispute resolution mechanisms; and fiscal incentives such as waiver of Inter-State Transmission (ISTS) charges till June 2025, have facilitated the energy transition.
The strategy to offer a ‘plug-and-play’ model to developers via utility-scale solar parks, which provide ready access to land, grid and other infrastructure, has helped minimise uncertainties and shortened project commissioning timelines.  Since 2015, the Government has sanctioned 47 solar parks in 15 states, with aggregate capacity of 37.7 GW, Karnataka’s 2 GW Pavagada Solar Park is among the largest in the world.
The PM-KUSUM Scheme, launched in March 2019, aims to add ~31 GW capacity through solar plants on barren/ fallow /marshy land owned by farmers; replace 2 million diesel pumps with standalone solar pumps, and solarise 1.5 million grid-connected agri-pumps, using domestically made solar cells and modules.  PM-KUSUM is providing energy and water security to farmers, de-dieselising the farm sector and enhancing farmers’ income through excess solar power sale.  It will save -32 million tonnes of CO2 emissions and 1.4 billion litres of diesel annually.
On the urban side, the Solar Cities Programme aims to develop atleast one solar city in state, to source all electricity from renewable.  So far, 23 States / UTs have identified cities to be developed as Solar Cities.
To promote domestic manufacturing and reduce import dependence for RE equipment, Production Linked Incentives were launched in 2021 to promote manufacturing of high efficiency solar PV modules, including the upstream verticalssuch as cells, wafers, ingots and polysilicon.
Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, on the 15th of August 2021, had announced the launch of National Hydrogen Mission with a target to make India a global hub for production aswell as exporting Green Hydrogen.It is estimated that about 5.6 million metric tonnes (MMT) hydrogen is produced annually in India and consumed for various industrial purposes including petroleum refining, manufacture of ammonia for fertilisers, methanol production, treatment and production of metals and food processing. Most of this hydrogen is currently sourced from fossil fuels (steam reformation of natural gas, naptha etc).  The hydrogen market is expected to double in size about 11 MMT per annum by 2030. 
 There is wide acceptance based on techno-economic trends that use of Green Hydrogen would achieve cost-competitiveness across various potential segments within a decade or so.  It has the potential to enhance penetration of renewable energy in areas like long-range heavy-duty transportation and shipping.  It can also replace fossil fuel based feed-stocks in sectors like fertilizers, petrochemicals, steel etc.  It can be particularly useful in remote locations as a carrier of energy.  MNRE is accordingly developing a draft National Hydrogen Energy Mission document, which would lay down Government of India’s vision, intent and strategic direction for hydrogen.  The broad vision is to develop indigenous capabilities and lower costs to speed up adoption of Green Hydrogen in various areas of potential use. 
The proposed strategy is to create initial demand for Green Hydrogen through suitable mandates in sectors like fertilizer, refining and natural gas networks and simultaneously promoting indigenous manufacturing of electrolysers. This will enable economies of scale, facilitate technology development and accelerate cost reduction, thus paving the way for green hydrogen use in other sectors like long haul transport, steel production etc. The Mission would cover the key areas of creating demand and market instruments; developing indigenous manufacturing capacities, particularly in electrolysers; establishing facilitative policy and regulatory frameworks; building production and supply infrastructure; and carrying out R&D for green hydrogen.
In order to help other countries achieve energy access, India founded the International Solar Alliance (ISA).  Today, the ISA has 98 member countries working towards facilitating the deployment of 1000 GW of Solar energy globally by 2030.  In 2018, Prime Minister Modi proposed the One Sun-One World-One Grid initiative – a global Green Grid to deliver solar energy across borders.  India is collaborating with other countries through the ISA and the World Bank to draw up an international compact for One Sun-One World-One Grid.
In 2018, the UN Environment Programme bestowed Prime Minister Modi with its top environmental honour, designating him a Champion of the Earthfor his bold environmental leadership on the global stage, his championing of the ISA, and his commitment to eliminating single-use plastics in India.
In 2021, India was selected as a UN Global Champion for Energy Transition for its voluntary and action-oriented clean energy and climate action policies, and citizen-centric approach to sustainable development.  We shall continue to remain at the forefront of energy transition; setting the pace for the rest of the world by what we do.