Currently Delhi produces only 0.03% electricity from renewable sources. Installling solar panels across the Capital can increase this figure drastically. © Harikrishna Katragadda / Greenpeace
With the onset of summer in Delhi come the all too familiar power outages. The power crisis is slowly but surely creeping in with unscheduled power cuts in different parts of the city since April. Meanwhile, recent reports indicate that electricity tariffs could be hiked again in Delhi, all while the Chief Minister, Shiela Dixit had promised uninterrupted power supply this summer. The question is how will continuous electricity be supplied even with tariff hikes?
Greenpeace India has initiated an online petition to Shiela Dixit to create a policy that helps implement renewable energy projects, like solar power, in Delhi so we can have uninterrupted, clean energy.
Currently most of Delhi’s electricity comes from coal-fired power plants mostly in other states. In 2012 we saw the biggest black out in the history of the country where half the population was powerless for days. Delhi was severely affected along with other Northern, Eastern and North East states. If 75% of Delhi’s electricity was not generated from coal, and decentralised renewable energy was available, Delhi could have powered itself to a large extent during the grid failure.
75% of Delhi’s electricity comes from coal-fired power plants mostly in other states. © Greenpeace / Sudhanshu Malhotra
Furthermore, the cost of coal on the environment, our forests, wildlife and forest dwellers is devastating. Coal mining has been steadily destroying forests in Central India and a recent Greenpeace study found that at least 1.1 million hectares of forests are still under threat. We cannot depend on this dirty, destructive energy source that does not even guarantee regular power in the first place.
It’s time to look heavenward and stop killing trees and wildlife by digging into the Earth for coal. Solar power and other renewable energy can provide us with enough clean electricity especially in a place like Delhi. But a Greenpeace report in April ‘Powering Ahead on Renewables: Leaders and Laggards’ revealed that in 2012, Delhi produced only 0.03% electricity from renewable sources after setting a meagre target of 3.4%.
Tamil Nadu on the other hand set a target of 9% and produced 19.14%. The capital of our country and seat of government, being rich and influential must set the trend in producing most of its electricity from renewable sources. In 14.5 seconds the sun provides as much energy to Earth as humanity uses in a day . Delhi is fortunate to have abundant sunlight for most of the year. It’s unacceptable that we destroy forests, endure power outages and blackouts when political will can change all that.
Tigers are among a host of other wildlife threatened by coal mining in Central Indian forests. © Harshad Barve / Greenpeace
Today Germany produces 22% of its power from renewables and solar power provides a quarter of that. Every year Germany has been increasing its solar panel installations dramatically and plans to eliminate nuclear power by 2023 and use only renewable energy by 2050 . A world class city like Delhi can set similar targets and inspire the rest of our country.
The Greenpeace report found that though Bihar and Gujarat did not achieve their renewable energy targets for 2012, the states stand out for a strong political leadership in the development of renewable energy infrastructure. The Delhi government can still redeem itself and the CM can keep her word if a strong renewable energy policy is implemented in the Capital to safeguard our energy future. If there is unwavering political will to harness the sun’s energy in the capital, then there are no limits to what can be achieved by partnering with the citizens of Delhi to generate green energy.
Ignatius Thekaekara is Online Media Officer with Greenpeace.