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Clean Energy Must Be Battery of Circular Economy

Context

Budget speech has laid emphasis on the clean technologies like the solar and wind energy. It has also called for the transformation of the present linear economy into a circular economy.

Relevance

GS-III: Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.

GS-III: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

Dimensions of the Article

  • What is Circular Economy?
  • Waste Management: India’s potential
  • Challenges for Waste Management Sector
  • What can be done? – Policy Support
  • What can be done? – Research and Development
  • What can be done? – Finance and Quality
  • Way Forward

What is Circular Economy?

  • Refers to an economy which works on reducing waste generation and extends lifecycle of products.
  • It does so via Reusing, Recycling, Repairing, Leasing, Sharing etc.
  • This is done for as long as possible as per the product and its utility.

Waste Management: India’s Potential

  • Waste Management Sector forms an essential part of Circular Economy.
  • As per International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), India’s total installed solar capacity will generate about 325 Kilotonnes of waste by 2030.
  • JMK Research and Analytics says that Battery recycling market in India can grow up to 23 GWh by 2030.
  • Circular economy would also insulate these sectors from any shocks caused due to external factors.
  • India on its road to achieve Net Neutrality by 2070 would need 5640 GW of Solar and 1792 GW of Wind Energy as its contributor.
  • Reducing of environmental harm, generation of jobs, social upliftment, energy security, etc. are all added benefits.

Challenges for Waste Management Sector

  • Informal nature of waste management in India poses many risks such as low job quality, hazardous working conditions, no social security etc.
  • Traditional Methods are non-sustainable as they would eventually run out. Eg. Landfills
  • Traditional Methods pose the risk of bioaccumulation and leaching which again would hamper the environment.
  • Lack of financial avenues hurt its expansion and transformation.
  • Lack of trained and skilled workers in this field.
  • Ecological damage is being cause by the incorrect waste disposal methods.

What can be done? – Policy Support

  • Present rules shall be revised in order to bring the clean energy in their ambit.
  • Clear roles and targets must be defined for the various stakeholders in this sector.
  • Dumping and Burning should be banned because of its non-sustainable nature and environmental risks.

What can be done? – Research and Development

  • Investments should be made in the recycling technologies.
  • Higher Efficiency and less environmental damage shall be the aim.
  • Partnering with global firms and technology transfer can help boost domestic capabilities.
  • Recycled Metals and Non-metals can be used as raw materials for domestic industries.

What can be done? – Finance and Quality

  • Innovative routes of financing the waste management sector must be looked at.
  • Lower interest rates for this sector can spur entrepreneurs
  • Green certificates can be issued which can be traded to raise money.
  • Procurement norms can be modified to make a market for the renewed products by mandatory procurements.
  • Quality Standards need to be maintained and for this product design must improve.
  • Union and State Governments can come with stringent norms regarding quality control.

Way Forward

Waste Management Sector would form the backbone of the Circular Economy. Informal nature and various stakeholders pose multiple challenges that need to be addressed. India has the potential to be the exemplary circular economy which it needs to harness for furthering its economic growth.

Source – The Hindu

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October 2022
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