Energy is a basic requirement for economic development. Every sector of the national economy – agriculture, industry, transport, commercial and domestic – needs inputs of energy. The economic development plans implemented since independence have necessarily required increasing amounts of energy. As a result, consumption of energy in all forms has been steadily rising all over the country.
The growing consumption of energy has also resulted in the country becoming increasingly dependent on fossil fuels such as coal and oil and gas. Rising prices of oil and gas and potential shortages in future lead to concerns about the security of energy supply, which is needed to sustain our economic growth. Increased use of fossil fuels also causes environmental problems both on local and global scales. In this background, there is urgent need for the country to develop a sustainable path of energy development. Promotion of energy conservation and increased use of renewable energy sources are the twin planks of sustainable energy.
Renewable energy in India comes under the purview of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. India was the first country in the world to set up a ministry of non-conventional energy resources, in early 1980s.
Today, India has one of the highest potentials for the effective use of renewable energy. India is the world’s fifth largest producer of wind power after Denmark, Germany, Spain, and the USA.
There is a significant potential in India for generation of power from renewable energy sources — small hydro, biomass and solar energy. The country has an estimated SHP (small-hydro power) potential of about 15,000 MW. Other renewable energy technologies, including solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, small hydro and biomass power are also spreading. Greater reliance on renewable energy sources offers enormous economic, social, and environmental benefits. Total installed power capacity in the country is about 263.66 GW with RE capacity of 34.35 GW (13% of Installed capacity and approximately 7% of electricity produced) (as on March 2015). MNRE has been implementing comprehensive programmes for the development and utilization of various renewable energy sources in the country.