Weeks after Tamil Nadu Chief Minister flagged off electric buses as a part of a brand new fleet for the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC), some of the best minds in the renewable energy sector – former government officers, thought leaders, journalists and members from consumer groups – came together to discuss and deliberate the way forward when it came to adopting renewable energy in the state. The time is deemed right to start a conversation on renewable energy due to the amount of stress that the planet is being put under due to climate change and carbon emissions.
From wondering if it was possible to shut down thermal power plants in the state immediately to analysing if enough buzz is created in the media for renewable energy, experts and stakeholders came together for a discussion that lasted around four hours in Chennai. Organised by the Press Institute of India (PII) and the Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group (CAG), the event saw some of the best minds in the renewable energy industry ranging from think tanks, journalists and former government officers, offer their perspectives on the state of renewable energy in Tamil Nadu and how media can help in making the right noise about the topic.
The discussions touched upon the quantum of media coverage on topics related to renewable energy like solar and wind power since 2009, the challenges faced by distribution companies (TANGEDCO) in aiding consumers leverage the potential of solar and wind power in Tamil Nadu, solar policy of Tamil Nadu which was released in 2019, TANGEDCO’s continuous string of losses and how it can bounce back from its bad financial condition etc.
Former Chairperson of Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission Akshaya Kumar, AD Thirumoorthy, member of State Level Renewable Energy Committee, Deepak Krishnan and Sumedha Malaviya from the World Resources Institute (WRI), and many industrial and media experts were part of the workshop.
While many stakeholders agreed that the government is a major force that is blocking the consumers from switching to solar power, they also agreed that the initial cost in setting up a basic solar power panel in a house is very expensive, which deters the common man from considering it as a financially viable option.
Topics like electric vehicles were also touched upon in the workshop where representatives from the Institute of Transportation & Development Policy (ITDP) and AMS Electricity Mobility Limited spoke about the advantages and pain points of switching to electric vehicles in cities. As most of the participants in the workshop agreed that renewable energy was indeed the way to go to save the planet, they also suggested ways for TANGEDCO to recover from a position of financial stress.