2019 was a milestone year for us. On 27 October 2019, ReNew Power crossed 5,000 MW of commissioned capacity and became the first clean energy company in India and the 11th globally (ex-China) to do so. This is a significant achievement, coming as it does within a short time span of 8 years and is a big step forward towards realizing our vision of building a sustainable and energy – secure India. I can’t be more grateful for the hard work and commitment displayed by ReNewers across the board, day in and day out which has led us to this landmark. I’d like to specially acknowledge the contributions of our site staff for slogging it out round the clock under the harshest of conditions to keep our engines running. More good news – we are now also among the top 50 listed companies in India by total assets and among top 10 listed infrastructure companies in the country. Aside from this landmark, the last year was also when we started major transformational initiatives in our endeavour of joining the league of truly world class organizations. This includes digitizing our operations, leveraging data to take better and value adding decisions and embedding a robust culture of quality and continuous improvement across the organization. At ReNew, since our early days, a strong innovation spirit has driven our growth and we have consciously encouraged our employees to challenge status quo and think laterally at work. I believe this is one aspect which distinguishes the world’s greatest organizations from the rest. In past few years, several ReNewers have come up with breakthrough ideas that have benefitted us and this year we launched internal platforms to further encourage this spirit. Overall, 2019 was satisfying with us exploring new areas of business, forging new partnerships and last but not the least being recognized for our efforts through a rich haul of awards. As has been the norm at ReNew, we are hungry for more success and bigger achievements, so bring it on 2020!! .
2019 was also a tough year for climate action. Despite heightened awareness and call for action against climate change, emissions are still going up, globally. According to Global Carbon Project, worldwide fossil fuel emissions are expected to be up 0.6% in 2019 over 2018, which is an alarming statistic. In India, we faced a year of growing climate vulnerability. July 2019 was the hottest ever recorded, and on the other hand, December 2019 recorded the lowest temperatures in a century. We faced 74% more extreme rainfall events, 113% more forest-fires year-on-year and were hit by 7 cyclones, according to a report by India Spend. India’s overall ranking on the Global Climate Risk Index slipped 9 points from 14 in 2017 to 5th in 2018. To put this into economic context, it is estimated that India will lose Rs.2.7 crore or 0.36% per unit of gross domestic product due to climate change, according to a report published by Bonn-based think tank, German Watch. Clearly, there is much more to be done to safeguard our planet and we must act NOW!!
As we move into 2020, here are my three wishes for a cleaner and greener India:
1. Build investor confidence in the renewable energy sector: The renewable industry in India requires a massive infusion of capital to meet its target of 175 GW by 2022 and 450 GW by 2030. Capital providers require sustainable returns and assurances on the health of the sector through discom reforms, continuity of policies and sanctity of contracts. Investors are wary of payment risk from discoms. Discoms are operating with outdated infrastructure and processes and are unsurprisingly, in poor health. This has resulted in a negative ripple effect in the entire electricity value chain. Immediate reforms are needed to revitalise the discoms – privatisation and greater economy may be the answer. There is a dire need to invest in upgraded infrastructure and to formulate an action plan to enhance revenue collection.
2. Proactive inter-state policies to address air-pollution: Nobody deserves to suffer through hazardous air quality for another winter in the National Capital region or anywhere else in the country for that matter. We need policy and regulatory consensus built across Centre and State governments to ensure suitable measures are taken to protect our health before winter hits us in 2020. The new Electric Vehicle policy launched by the Delhi government last week to operationalise 5 lac electric vehicles in the next 5 years, is a step in the right direction. The commissioning of Delhi’s first ever smog tower earlier this month is also great news. We should aim for more urban green cover and enforce various Government regulations that aim to curb pollution. Given that the state of our poor air is entirely man-made, it is incumbent upon us to work with stakeholders across government, private sector and civil society organisations to ensure we never have to endure adverse conditions, because of poor air quality
3. More private sector participation for a low carbon future: Here, I am not just referring to increased participation from the private sector in the renewable energy industry but also for their commitment to climate positive actions, irrespective of the sectors in which they operate. We only have a decade left to cut global emissions in half. Businesses must walk the talk and embed sustainability within their day to day operations The failure of the UN Climate Conference in Madrid has made corporate leadership even more critical to fill the gap in country leadership. This could be through measures like increased commitment to energy-efficiency in ‘hard-to-abate’ sectors like cement and construction; or signing up to using more renewable energy in their power mix, or even reducing carbon emissions by using more electric vehicles for their transportation needs.
The Oxford Dictionary made ‘climate emergency’ its word of the year for 2019. Let us work towards making ‘climate action’ the buzzword for 2020. We owe this to our future generations.