Akshay Urja Diwas | Renewable Energy Day
Rajiv Gandhi Akshaya Urja Diwas (RGAUD) or Renewable Energy Day is celebrated on 20th August every year since 2004. It is also the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and known as Sadbhavana Diwas. This day is celebrated to raise awareness campaigns on the development of renewable energy in the country. India is running one of the largest and most ambitious renewable capacity expansion programs in the world.
The first event relating to Akshay Urja Diwas was organized in New Delhi. That year Prime Minister released a commemorative stamp and 12,000 schoolchildren formed a human chain to promote renewable energy. The next years the events were organized in Nagpur, Hyderabad, Panchkula, Haryana.
August 20 wasn’t chosen on random to be the date of the observance. It is the birth anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi, Prime Minister of India from October 31, 1984, to December 2, 1989. He advocated taking the country into the 21st century through the application of modern technology and science. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to implement his ideas, because he was assassinated in 1991.
India is one country that produces a large amount of energy from renewable sources. India was the first country in the world to set up a ministry of non-conventional energy resources (Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE)), in the early 1980s, and its public sector undertakings the Solar Energy Corporation of India is responsible for the development of solar energy industry in India. Hydroelectricity is administered separately by the Ministry of Power and not included in MNRE targets.
Energy can be classified as renewable and non-renewable energy. The energy that is generated from sources that remain non-exhaustible and hence do not deplete with usage is called as “renewable energy”. Some example of this form of energy is power generated using sunlight, water, and wind. The sun doesn’t deplete with usage but the energy generated by coal or wood is depleted and cannot be renewed. Other sources of renewable energy sources are tides, waves, and geothermal heat.
Why renewable energy is important
Renewable energy sources are that technologies such as solar panels and wind turbines are responsible for far less carbon dioxide than power plants that burn fossil fuels. But two other powerful benefits should also be getting much more attention: the switch can save vast quantities of freshwater and can create a large number of new, high-paying jobs.
Economic development has been strongly correlated with increasing energy use and the growth of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The poorest members of the society can access to modern energy services easily. For instance, by installing solar panels, the poor can access electricity most of the time in the day. The rural areas lack 24-hour electricity. If solar and wind plants are distributed, there can be minimal electricity generation interruption because weather disruptions in one location cannot be the same in other locations.
Plus renewable energy is a clean source of energy, meaning, it has low or zero carbon and greenhouse emission. It reduces local and regional air pollution and lowers associated health impacts compared to fossil-based power generation. Renewable resources do not deplete over a lifetime while sources like oil, gas, and coal are considered limited and will run out in the future.
India’s efforts towards renewable energy
Ministry of New and Renewable Energy: India is the first country in the world to set up a ministry of non-conventional energy resources (now Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). Its public sector undertakings the Solar Energy Corporation of India is responsible for the development of the solar energy industry in India.
Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC): In the Paris, Agreement India has committed to an Intended Nationally Determined Contributions target of achieving 40% of its total electricity generation from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030. 175 GW interim target is 100 GW of solar, 60 GW of wind, 10 GW of biomass, and 5 GW of small hydro.
Central Electricity Authority’s strategy blueprint: The country is aiming for an ambitious target of 57% of the total electricity capacity from renewable sources by 2027 in the Central Electricity Authority’s strategy blueprint. According to the 2027 blueprint, India aims to have 275 GW from renewable energy, 72 GW of hydroelectricity, 15 GW of nuclear energy, and nearly 100 GW from other zero-emission sources.
Commission for Additional Sources of Energy: Realizing the need for concentrated efforts in this sector, The Government of India established a Commission for Additional Sources of Energy (CASE) in the Department of Science and Technology. The mandate of CASE is to promote research and development activities in the field of renewable energy.
Solar mini-grids project: As part of the government’s initiatives to take renewable energy to remote places, Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy, launched the solar mini-grids project. The Solar Mini-Grids project has the objective of taking advantage of the available solutions to promote universal energy access by 2025 and reduce electricity costs and tariffs.
India has taken the lead in the renewable energy sector in the world. On 31 March 2020, India’s 35.86% of electricity generation capacity is from renewable sources. By 2030 India has committed to an Intended Nationally Determined Contributions target of achieving 40% of its total electricity generation from non-fossil fuel sources.