India has a $250 billion investment opportunity in the renewable energy space, said Piyush Goyal, minister of power, coal and renewable energy, at Mint's fifth energy conclave in New Delhi . This includes the peripheral transmission and generation segments as well. India plans to have 100,000 megawatts (MW) of solar energy capacity by 2022. The government has also set a target of generating 60,000MW from wind power by then.
Renewable energy currently accounts for 13%, or 35,777MW, of the total installed capacity of 274,818MW.
India's push to boost wind and solar power production provides opportunities for global companies that have been hit by the plunge in international crude oil prices.
Lower oil prices can potentially derail, or at least delay, the world's shift to wind and solar energy, as it makes less economic sense to tap costlier renewable energy sources.
Speaking at the event, Goyal said that in the next two to three years, India will not be dependent on coal imports except for coking coal.
The Indian coal sector, with one of the five highest reserves in the world, today imports coal worth $20 billion a year, as domestic production lags demand.
"I would say not only for fuel but for equipment, technology, maintenance, servicing, innovation in the power sector, the coal sector and the renewable energy sector, except for coking coal, which is yet not explored adequately, I am confident that in the given three-four years, India will not have any import dependence at all," he added.
He added that India has done exceedingly well in terms of equipment and on the solar energy side.
"I don't think we'll have any more import dependence in terms of LEDs, energy efficiencies, in terms of equipment for the cells and modules that is raw material. I'm quite sure given the huge impetus the industry is focusing on or the government is trying, we shall soon have more manufacturing companies coming to India," he said.
Goyal said India will not have a single incandescent bulb in the country, and hopefully no CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) either, in three years.
"I am talking about three years replacing seven years, 770 million LED bulbs in people's homes and just the programme we are looking at will save 100 million units of energy consumption—that is 10,000 crore units of electricity, and the benefit goes straight into your pocket," he added.
For India, the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter after the US and China, the emphasis on solar and wind power is also expected to strengthen its standing at global climate change negotiations that will culminate in a summit in Paris in December.
Goyal also reiterated that India has around 18,500 villages that are still to be electrified. "In 1,000 days, we will have a situation where all 597,000 villages will have energy access. We have allocated central funds for it," he added.
He added that the government has taken a pledge to provide 24x7 power, which is the right of every citizen and will be taken up as a mission.
"I assure that every household will get energy. Especially the eastern part of India has been deprived of their rights. It has to be a shared responsibility that people staying in forests, tribals, villages in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have access to these basic amenities. For any development, I believe it is important to have electricity. You can't have huge investments and say wait, you'll have to wait until electricity is made available to you," Goyal said.