Prospective Renewable Power in India

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    The recent data by the Global Solar Power Tracker and the Global Wind Power Tracker rank India among the top seven countries in terms of prospective renewable power.

    Key Highlights of Report

    • India plans to add 76 gigawatts (GW) of utility-scale solar and wind power by 2025 which could save up to $19.5 billion a year (over 15 lakh crore) caused due to the burning of coal
    • India plans to add an additional 420 GW of wind and solar power by 2030, which would increase the annual savings from avoiding coal power to more than $58 billion, with total savings reaching $368 billion by 2030
    • India versus other countries: 
      • India accounts for 5 per cent of all prospective utility-scale solar power globally, trailing only China, the U.S. and Australia. 
      • It’s placed 17th globally in prospective wind power capacity.
      • China has the most prospective renewable power currently at 387,258 MW, followed by Australia, Brazil, the United States, Vietnam, Greece, South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan.
    • Significance:
      • Annual savings in India can skyrocket if the coal to clean switch matches the country’s ambitions. 
      • India will be richer and cleaner by quitting coal. Costs for solar and wind power continue to plummet, and compared to volatile fossil fuel prices, renewable present a far better option for building new energy infrastructure.

    Renewable Energy

    • Reasons for the growth of renewable energy:
      • Expansion of electricity coverage: Increased coverage of electricity, along with the provision of last-mile connectivity to all households under the SAUBHAGYA scheme or Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (see inset), has led to higher demand for energy.
        • As urbanisation increases, there is also an Increase in the per capita consumption of energy leading to the growth of energy demand.
      • Growth: Despite the COVID-induced slowdown, India is one of the few countries which are looking at a substantial growth rate in the future, thus increasing the requirement of energy in the post-COVID world.
        • COVID has led to people understanding the importance of cleanliness. This has also created a favourable perception of clean energy. Therefore, thermal energy, being one of the largest emitters of pollution, will naturally be considered an inferior source of energy
      • Growing acceptance of electric mobility: Electric and hybrid vehicles have become the technology of choice around the world. This will create additional power demand for charging the needs of the Electric vehicles.
      • Rise in importance of clean energy: India’s commitments under the Paris climate deal: Apart from decreasing the energy intensity and creation of carbon sink, India has also committed itself to meet 40% of its total energy demand from non-fossil sources. 
        • Thus, it is imperative to invest in renewable energy to meet this target.
      • Personal energy invested by the PM: PM has set the targets and reiterated that the Indian government is committed to increasing the share of renewable energy in India’s total energy share. Initially, the target for renewable energy was set at 175 GW, but now it has been further revised to 450 GW by 2030.
      • Air Pollution: Rise in the levels of air pollution in Delhi and other major cities have led to a change in the policy direction towards clean energy driven growth in India.
    • Benefits of renewable energy:
      • Sustainability: Renewable energy is a cleaner source of pollution, thus, benefiting the environment in general and reducing pollution and the associated diseases in particular.
      • Atmanirbhar Bharat: Investment by the private sector in renewable energy would also be helpful in fulfilling the Government’s objective of self-reliance. It will also create employment opportunities in the country.
      • Last-mile connectivity: As renewable energy can also be decentralised, therefore, it is better placed to extend last-mile connectivity in remote areas, where it might not be financially feasible to stretch the main grid.  This is also economical for the government and households as decentralised connectivity decreases the Transmission and distribution losses.
      • Low maintenance cost

    Major Programmes 

    • National Solar Mission (NSM) 
    • Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM)
    • Atal Jyoti Yojana (AJAY) Phase-II
    • Solar Parks Scheme

    Challenges 

    • India has fallen short of its target to install 175 gigawatts of renewable energy in its overall power production of 2022.
    • Creating financing for green energy targets is a significant challenge as it requires significant investments to develop and implement clean energy projects.
    • Acquiring land for clean energy projects is a significant issue as there is often strong resistance from local communities who may be unwilling to relinquish their land for these projects.
    • Building energy storage infrastructure and enacting more progressive policies to support clean energy initiatives can also be a significant hurdle for governments at both the central and state levels.

    Way Ahead

    • India’s switch from coal to clean power is a win-win and a promising step towards meeting the country’s net zero emissions target by 2070
    • Governments and private sector organizations need to collaborate and work together to develop innovative solutions and strategies that can help to overcome these obstacles.
    • India’s energy demand is expected to increase more than that of any other country in the coming decades due to its sheer size and enormous potential for growth and development.
    •  Therefore, it is imperative that most of this new energy demand is met by low-carbon, renewable sources.

    Source: IE