The Evolution of Renewable Energy Policy Making in India The renewable policy context

Two major issues have been responsible for putting renewable energy sources in the right perspective in India; the widening gap between energy consumption and supply and the resultant polluting emissions generated by using conventional fossil fuels. Furthermore, renewable energy technologies have an important role to play in the socio-economic development of the communities in developing countries, including India.

India was among the few first countries in the world to have launched a major programme for harnessing renewable energy. By the 1990s the government of India came to recognize the importance of renewable energy as a means of decentralized energy systems which could meet the requirements of far-flung rural areas. The government of India had given a new thrust to its efforts at the beginning of the Eighth Five-Year plan (1992—97) which included the use of renewable energy technologies for power generation.

Over the past two decades, several renewable energy technologies have attained technological maturity in India, leading to rapid commercialization. By giving greater importance to developing market linkages, as well as involving the private sector in these ventures by providing fiscal and tax incentives, the government of India has sought to accelerate the pace of development.

Thus the importance of an increasing use of renewable energy sources in the transition to a sustainable energy base continues to be appreciated. However, it must be emphasized that there is an entirely different set of issues that India grapples with, and with which renewable energy systems can assist. Renewable energy not only augments energy generation and GHG emissions mitigation but also contributes to improvements in the local environment, afforestation, drought control, energy conservation, employment generation, upgrading of health and hygiene, social welfare, security of drinking water, increased agricultural yield and production of bio-fertilizers. Hence, policy-makers recognize that in order to achieve sustainable development as a whole, the growing energy requirements in India can be met by a judicious deployment of renewable energy resources if a suitable pattern of energy mix is evolved.

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