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Energy Demands Amid COVID-19: Urgency To Expand Sustainability

INTRODUCTION

India has probably the most robust Renewable Energy (RE) aspirations on the planet, with the aim of social welfare in the nation. After imposing the most rigorous lockdown, India is looking forward to the energy transition which will impact the energy demand of the current scenario. India moved to the lead edge of the worldwide energy transition with an objective of 175-gigawatt (GW) sustainable power source limit by 2022. This is probably going to experience a move up to 450 GW by 2030. National peak demand has fallen from 165 GW to 125 GW during the lockdown, this large-scale variation demands more prominent adaptability to straighten the demand and supply discrepancy amid lockdown. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), issued an office memorandum on April 1, 2020, clarifying the 'Must Run' status of RE generating stations stays unaltered and pronounced this 'must-run' status would stay unaltered all through the lockdown period.


PANDEMIC’s IMPACT ON RENEWABLE TRANSITION

According to Tracking SDG 7: The Energy Progress Report, huge advancement had been made on different parts of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 before the beginning of the COVID-19 emergency. Despite these advances, worldwide endeavours stay lacking to arrive at the key focuses of SDG 7 by 2030. This report is based on the global investigation of ongoing patterns and strategies identified with SDG 7 targets viz. access to electricity, clean cooking, renewables, energy efficiency and international financial flows. Regardless of the fast development of solar and wind power in the generation of electricity, the portion of sustainable power source in global energy is just creeping up gradually.


Power has been included as an essential service on March 24, 2020, by the Ministry of Home Affairs, this inclusion affected many ongoing renewable energy projects. The ministry also clears through a guideline, that development of renewable power source ventures which don't fall inside isolated or assigned hotspot zones might be continued. However, nationwide lockdown forces many service providers to issue force majeure notices to renewable power generators due to their inability to provide services or maintain chain at some projects area where the inter-district transport has been restricted. This majorly affected the release of payments and generation of power. Many of the manufacturing units had been carried out to an end due to nationwide lockdown, and this has changed the shift from a renewable source to non-renewable source; until the normal services and transportations do not come up.


Due to the stringent lockdown, the availability of manpower and spare for maintaining the projects has been decreased. Many new projects have come to a deadlock, despite the fact that force majeure conditions, regular payments to companies operating RE plants, digital signatures on invoices, the must-run status of RE plants etc. will empower expansion for project completion; while migrant crisis extends it more due to time needed to reach all the needed workers at project sites. This extension of time also forces the developer or EPC contractor to suffer additional standstill project costs. While keeping in mind that renewable energy projects are competitively bid projects, this also affects power production adversely even post lockdown. Some DISCOMs also declared to invoke force majeure with their generators even when the Ministry of Power allowed 3 months (till June 30, 2020) payments relaxation and reduced rates of Late Payment Surcharge to DISCOMs.


Conventional energy is abundant in economies like India, Australia etc. which are relaxing environmental norms to speed up and hold the declining economy. India under EIA notification 2020, exempts some of the projects from assessments and public hearings. In India, the sustainable part, including enormous hydro, represented 15.6 per cent in January, which is a scarce season for hydro whereas wind, solar, small hydro setups, biomass energy contributed around 9.11 per cent in the last year. Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) also varies from state to state, of which the period has been extended by Karnataka for three months for the financial year of 2020. However, many of the industries were closed down because of the lockdown, which has brought about the loss of income and production capacity.


CONCLUSION: -

Renewable energy is critical for accomplishing SDG 7 and building versatile, sustainable and balanced economies in a post lockdown world. It is high time, for intense global participation to meet the energy demand-supply gap and expand sustainability to speed up the recovery measures. The Government should also take harmonized steps to avoid unnecessary litigations and losses to project developers. We have challenges momentarily; however, if industrialists or developers take proper measures along with government support, then it would be a great opportunity for the renewable energy industry to push positive changes for constructing a versatile energy future.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mudit Goswami is a 2nd year Law student, currently pursuing Law from Amity Law School, Amity University, Madhya Pradesh.

You can contact him at http://linkedin.com/in/mudit-goswami-a677bb1aa

Editor: Rudra Prasad

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