John Kerry and India’s ambitious plans for renewable energy

by | May 4, 2021 | Blog | 0 comments

US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry acknowledges India’s global leadership when it comes to the deployment of renewable energy

While India has been supplying COVID-19 vaccines across the world, its efforts for the deployment of renewable energy have not gone unnoticed either. John Kerry, on his recent visit to the country, said India is indisputably a world leader in the deployment of renewable energy.

He added that India’s leadership of the International Solar Alliance promised to advance clean energy across India and other dynamic growing economies around the world, especially appreciating the Modi-led government’s target of 450 GW of renewables by 2030 which he said sets a very strong example of how to power a growing economy with clean energy. He also pointed out that the recent International Energy Agency’s special report on India noted that the country is on pace to become the global leader in solar and storage by 2040.

With India’s rapid scale-up on this front, it is already cheaper to build solar energy in the country than anywhere else in the world. In fact, Kerry was very pleased to hear that many of India’s biggest companies recently signed a declaration on climate change, pledging to go carbon neutral and assured that the United States would always be a friend and partner to support this path of sustainable future.

With India becoming a red hot investment opportunity because of its clean energy transition, here’s a look at what the country’s ambitious plans look like.

India’s renewable energy sector is the fourth most attractive renewable energy market in the world, and it was ranked fifth in wind power, fifth in solar power, and fourth in renewable power installed capacity, as of 2019. In fact, installed renewable power generation capacity has gained pace over the past few years, posting a CAGR of 17.33% between FY16-20, according to reports, and the government plans to establish a renewable energy capacity of 500 GW by 2030.

If one looks at the current market size, the installed renewable energy capacity till November 2020 stood at 90.39 GW, of which solar comprised 36.91 GW and wind amounted to 38.43 GW, while biomass accounted for 10.14 GW and small hydropower for 4.74 GW. Interestingly, Northern India is all set to become the hub of renewable energy with a potential capacity of 363 GW.

The world is also sitting up and taking notice of this phenomenal investment opportunity and FDI inflow in the non-conventional energy sector alone stood at US$ 9.68 billion between April 2000 and September 2020. In fact, more than US$ 42 billion has been invested in the country’s renewable energy sector since 2014 and new investment in clean energy reached US$ 11.1 billion in 2018.

Last year alone India added 2,320 MW of solar capacity. Most notable projects which have been announced of late include the 2,000 MW Subansiri Lower Hydro Electric Project in Arunachal Pradesh which will be set up at a cost of Rs 1,564 crores by Patel Engineering, and Tata Power’s 100 MW solar project in Dholera Solar Park of Gujarat. The Adani group plans to become the world’s largest solar power company by 2025, and the biggest renewable energy firm by 2030.

Among the public sector projects, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) signed an MoU with NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam, an NTPC subsidiary to promote the use of electric vehicles and set up solar power plants at its airports, while NTPC is targeting to generate 30% or 39 GW of its overall power capacity from renewable energy sources by 2032. As per reports, India plans to add 30 GW of renewable energy capacity along the desert on its western border of Gujarat and Rajasthan. The Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) implemented large-scale central auctions for solar parks and has awarded contracts for 47 parks with over 25 GW of combined capacity.

The Indian Government is undertaking many large-scale sustainable power projects with the target of generating around 49% of the total electricity from renewable energy by 2040. The icing on the cake is that all this will create many employment opportunities in rural areas. More efficient batteries will be used to store electricity and renewable energy will replace coal in a big way. The good news is that all this will further bring down the cost of solar energy by 66%, and save the country about Rs 54,000 crore annually. If all goes according to play, of the total installed power capacity in 2030, up to 55% will be renewable energy. The share of thermal energy, which needs coal as raw material, will come down drastically from 78% to around 52% with plans to take this down further.

The Government is committed to increased use of clean energy sources and is already undertaking various large-scale sustainable power projects and promoting green energy heavily. In addition, renewable energy has the potential to create many employment opportunities at all levels, especially in rural areas. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has set an ambitious target to set up renewable energy capacities to the tune of 227 GW by 2022, of which about 114 GW is planned for solar, 67 GW for wind, and other for hydro and bio among other. India’s renewable energy sector is expected to attract investment worth US$ 80 billion in the next four years. About 5,000 Compressed Biogas plants will be set up across India by 2023.

It is expected that by 2040, around 49% of the total electricity will be generated by renewable energy as more efficient batteries will be used to store electricity, which will further cut the solar energy cost by 66% as compared to the current cost. * Use of renewables in place of coal will save India Rs. 54,000 crores (US$ 8.43 billion) annually3. Renewable energy will account for 55% of the total installed power capacity by 2030.

As per the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) estimates, by 2029-30, the share of renewable energy generation would increase from 18% to 44%, while that of thermal is expected to reduce from 78% to 52%.

With such ambitious plans, India is indeed set to become the leader in renewable energy in the coming years.

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