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Guest Blog: Learning from India’s power revolution

Dr Henri Winand – CEO of Intelligent Energy, UK

Given the relative state of their power grids, it would seem that the UK has little to learn from India when it comes to efficiently providing and delivering electricity. But when it comes to renewable energy, India is paving a path from which the rest of the world should take inspiration.

Shared issues

Before looking at a more specific comparison between the two countries, it is worth noting that some of the issues which both countries face in terms of power provision are shared. Increasing energy demand, energy security concerns, and rising energy prices affect both the UK and India. The need for stricter environmental regulations and solutions for inefficient travel and buildings are apparent in both regions.

India growing fast

While its skyrocketing population and fast-developing, mobile-using economy are fueling India’s demand for coal and oil, the country is under increasing global pressure to substantially curb its greenhouse gas emissions.

And even though India is responding to that challenge with some aggressive renewable energy mandates, there is concern from the nation’s leaders about removing the use of oil & gas at the risk of constraining the country’s ability to create jobs, build out infrastructure, and lower poverty levels.[1]

In a country in which nearly one-third of the population lacks adequate access to the electrical grid and half of all homes experience a power outage every day, leaders simply cannot afford to pull the plug on fossil fuels. After all, the country’s reliance on coal lies at around 60%.[2]

UK is more established

In the UK, similar calls for a more renewable-heavy mix should, in theory, be easier to meet. The nation is on a much more solid economic footing, and its infrastructure, while aging, is much more established than India’s. Power outages are sporadic, and generally limited in scale.

As such, the country should be more capable of weathering a significant reduction of its use of fossil fuels. It should also be able to shift much of that effort to the generation and delivery of renewable energy forms.

Surprising comparison?

It might therefore seem surprising that India can even be compared with the UK with energy from renewable sources – India currently generates just 6%[3] of its energy from renewable sources, compared to 7% in the UK.[4]

Both countries have also established strong targets to increase the use of energy consumption from renewable sources. The UK is bound by the target to make 15% of its energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020. However, the impetus under a new Conservative government in the UK to meet these is not as strong as it has been.[5]

On the other hand, India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is beating its own targets, having increased its renewable capacity by 13% in 2014.[6]

And in early October, India’s Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar pledged that by 2030, 40% of India’s power would be generated from renewable sources. The population is projected to grow by 1.5 billion people in the same period, so the increased energy capacity required will be enormous, for both renewables and fossil fuels.[7] The scale of this ambition is remarkable.

Opportunity for innovation

Despite fossil fuel generation being deeply entrenched in the UK – on average, UK residents use approximately 40% more energy than their Indian counterparts[8] – the underlying factor for greater energy efficiency in India is the opportunity to implement new and innovative forms of energy generation.

The reason for India’s growth in this field of renewable energy is simple: the nature of the infrastructure, or rather lack of it, in an emerging nation means that India can re-invent for itself how power is generated and distributed. Less entrenchment can allow greater flexibility.

Landmark telecom deal

We should therefore not be surprised that India is one of those leading the way in energy innovation, with projects like the recent landmark deal signed by Intelligent Energy.

Here, Intelligent Energy will manage the power supply of thousands of mobile telecom towers, initially optimising performance of the existing diesel backup generators, but ultimately in the longer term, replacing them with highly efficient hydrogen fuel cells – helping Indian telecoms to leapfrog some of the infrastructure challenges and growth pains.

Developing markets

Policy-makers in developed markets are beginning to rethink the security and overreliance of their power grids, and as infrastructure creaks in Europe and North America, the need for alternatives to fossil fuels becomes more pressing. There are clear lessons in energy innovation which can be learned from developing markets like India.

India is catching up fast. Ernst & Young’s Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index 2015[9] rates the UK and India at #8 and #4, respectively – India has jumped up three places since last year.

It is said that necessity is the mother of invention, and so in India, driven by its rapid economic growth, we will see in just a short few years a swift transition from straggler to world leader in clean energy.


1. SAPIENS (2009). Sustainable energy for developing countries.

2. BBC (31 August 2014). In pictures: India’s coal miners.

3. Bloomberg (25 November 2014). India to double renewables in energy mix, minister says.

4. Energy UK. Renewable generation.

5. UK Conservative Party (2015). Conservative Party Manifesto 2015.

6. CleanTechica (7 May 2015). India increases renewable energy capacity by 13%, beats target.

7. Press Information Bureau, Government of India (30 September 2015). Environment minister’s speech at the Major Economies Forum. The Guardian (2 October 2015). India unveils climate change plan.

8. Economics Help (20 October 2012). List of countries energy use per capita.

9. Ernst & Young (September 2015). Renewable energy country attractiveness index – September 2015.

Dr Henri Winand

Dr Winand joined Intelligent Energy as CEO in 2006, and before was Vice President of Corporate Venturing at Rolls-Royce. He is a Governing Board member of the European Union’s Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU), and Treasurer of the FCH JU’s New Energy World Industry Grouping (NEW-IG). He is a member of the UK Government’s Green Economy Council, advising the Secretaries of State for the Departments of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), and Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Posted 21/10/2015 by Steve Barrett

Tagged under: Power generation , India , Fuel Cells , Hydrogen energy , Renewable energy , Telecoms

RE: Guest Blog: Learning from India’s power revolution
Posted 23/10/2015 by ANUMAKONDA JAGADEESH
Excellent analysis.Though so much talk about Solar especially in Rajasthan State there are some pertinent issues . Rajasthan is a dusty area where solar energy is promoted. It experience 'loo' strong winds with sand particles. What is the effect of thse fast travelling sand paticles when they strike smooth solar panel surface nobody looked into. Moreover getting water to clean the panels in Rajasthan as water is scarce in the desert area.On the other hand decentralised Renewable Energy Systems besides Energy Conservation will yield quick results. Here is an action plan: HARNESSING RENEWABLES AND ENERGY CONSERVATION IN INDIA WITH PEOPLE’S PARTICIPATION: 1. Promote Offshore Wind Farms. 2. Promote small wind generators as decentralised systems 3. Roof Top PV Solar 4. Creating Renewable Energy Fund. Investment by Income Tax Payers to be exempted under Section 80C(For Central Government). 5. Wind Farm Co-operatives on the lines of those in Germany,Denmark etc. 6. Solar Co-operatives on the lines of those in US. 7. Energy Conservation by replacing most of the inefficient 2.6 Crore irrigation electric pump sets(About 30% power can be saved). Agriculture consumes much power next only to Industry 8. Reading lights with reliable and quality dual powered(Solar/Electricity/USB) to save enormous energy. 9. Biofuel/Biogas for power generation and cooking from Agave/opuntia care-free growth,regenerative and CAM plants. In China Biogas for cooking is supplied trough pipes. In the vast vacant land in India Agave and Opuntia can be grown and power generation established as decentralised locally. 10. Simple Box Type Solar Cooker with frying facility( 3D approach,Design,Demonstrate and Disseminate) 11.Cost effective vertical and cylindrical,mobile solar water heater design. 12. Low head Micro hydro device to generate power from the head of falling water from the delivery pipe of Electric/diesel pump sets. 13. KW size Biogas power/cooking plant for villages. 14. Simple solar drier 15. Growing CAM Plants in Waste and Vacant lands which act as Carbon Sink. Energy Conservation There is great scope for offshore Wind energy in India: State wise wind power State Capacity (MW), as of March 31, 2015 Tamil Nadu 7455.2 Gujarat 3645.4 Maharashtra 4450.8 Rajasthan 3307.2 Karnataka 2638.4 Andhra Pradesh 1031.4 Madhya Pradesh 879.7 Kerala 35.1 Others 4.3 Total 23447.5 As of March 2013 Installed Wind capacity in Andhra Pradesh was just 448 MW . The major problem for AP for successful wind projects is lack of identified good windy sites. In the first instance Ramagiri was promoted . The wind power output at Ramagiri was around 12 lakh Units per MW (in some cases)per annum while in Muppandal in Tamil Nadu it was 29 lakh Units. In their eagerness to avail depreciation benefits in AP wind farms were set up in poor sites. That is why many investors in Wind migrated to Tamil Nadu THE DETAILS OF POTENTIAL SITES FOR WIND POWER PROJECTS IN ANDHRA PRADESH AS (Notified by MNRE) S.No. Name of the Station District Annual mean wind speed in (KMPH) Measured at 20/25 mtrs Annual Mean Wind Power Density (W/Sq.M) at 50 mtr 1 BADHRAMPALLI KOTTALA Anantapur 21.30 277 2 BANDARLAPALLI Anantapur 20.79 320 3 KADAVAKALLU Anantapur 22.10 325* 4 KAKULAKONDA (TTD) Chttoor 23.10 541* 5 KONDAMITHEPALLI Kurnool 21.22 349* 6 M.P.R.DAM Anantapur 19.90 269 7 MUSTIKOVALA Anantapur 20.20 237 8 NALLAKONDA Anantapur 22.80 324 9 NARASIMHA KONDA Nellore 20.10 403* 10 NAZEERABAD Rangareddy 21.00 232 11 PAMPANOOR THANDA Anantapur 19.60 232 12 PAYALAKUNTLA Cuddapah 20.10 257 13 RAMAGIRI I Anantapur 19.50 308* 14 RAMAGIRI III Anantapur 19.40 246* 15 SINGANAMALA Anantapur 23.80 392 16 TALLIMADUGULA Anantapur 22.20 288* 17 TIRUMALA Chittoor 20.40 374 18 VAJRAKARUR Anantapur 19.46 243 19 BORAMPALLI Anantapur 19.40 219 20 BURUGULA Kurnool 18.40 216 21 CHINNABABAIYAPALLI Anantapur 18.50 206 22 JAMMALAMADUGU – I Cuddapah 17.50 265 23 JAMMALAMADUGU – II Cuddapah 18.60 248 24 KODUMURU Kurnool 20.83 270 25 KORRAKODU Anantapur 18.67 220 26 MADUGUPALLI Anantapur 18.70 266 27 TALARICHERUVU Anantapur 18.11 298 28 TIRUMALAYAPALLI Anantapur 19.00 285 29 ULINDAKONDA Kurnool 17.54 225 30 ALANGARAPETTA Anantapur 20.76 272 31 SIDDANAGATTA .DO. 17.90 231 32 Bheemunipatnam Visakhapatnam 19.11 282 (* Locations where wind farms are set up/under progress)… The top potential wind sites with Annual Mean Wind Power Density (W/Sq.M) at 50 mtr are: KAKULAKONDA (TTD) Chttoor 23.10 541* NARASIMHA KONDA Nellore 20.10 403* In Kakulakonda the Windfarm is TTD Site and as such in that area others cannot set up Wind Farms. At Narasimhakonda in SPSR(Nellore Dt) Two Wind Turbines have been set up. As a Wind Energy Expert I have identified Narasimhakonda as the best site in AP because it has the best Power Law Index next only to Muppandal in Tamil Nadu. Being on the banks of Pennar River there are potential sites for wind in the Sangam, Venkatagiri(Dargam). Offshore Wind Farms in Andhra Pradesh Instead of wasting money by setting up wind farms in average wind sites in Ananthapur,Kurnool and Kadapa Districts, Andhra Pradesh should plan Major offshore wind farms with UK Collaboration as UK is pioneer. Following are the official figures sourced from union governments latest documents: The total length of coastline along each of the coastal State/UT in the country is as follows: Sl. No. State / UT Length of coastline (in km) (i) Gujarat 1214.7 (ii) Maharashtra 652.6 (iii) Goa, Daman and Diu 160.5 (iv) Karnataka 280.0 (v) Kerala 569.7 (vi) Tamil Nadu 906.9 (vii) Pudducherry 30.6 (viii) Andhra Pradesh 973.7 (ix) Odisha 476.4 (x) West Bengal 157.5 (xi) Lakshadweep Islands 132.0 (xii) Andaman & Nicobar Islands 1962.0 Total Coastline 7516.6 Andhra Pradesh has 973.7 km Coastline. Also the concept of Wind Farm co-operatives on the lines of those in Denmark, Germany etc. may be encouraged in AP as it may lead to mass participation in Wind Projects. It is hoped the Government of India and Government of Andhra Pradesh will encourage large offshore Wind Farms . Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India Renewable Energy Expert

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