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Renewable Energy in India: Current Status and Future Potential

It is not hidden anymore that India has a vast supply of renewable resources and it has one of the largest programs in world for deploying renewable energy products and systems. India is the only country in the world to have an exclusive ministry for renewable energy development, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) which has launched one of the world’s largest and ambitious programs on renewable energy. This article gives a brief overview of various renewable energy resources, their status in India, the socio-economic impact of renewable energy resources (RES), challenges associated with it and the future of RES in India.

Introduction:

Energy is regarded as the most important building block in human development and it is a key factor that influences the sustainable development of any nation. The conventional sources have an intimidating shadow on our present and future global safety, environmental values, health and society in general. Hence, there is an urgent need to promote renewable energy in Indian power sector. Renewable energy is the energy collected from renewable resources, which are naturally replenished on human timescale such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves and geothermal heat. It is the cleanest source of energy with least carbon emissions or pollution. This helps on reducing reliance on coal and other fossil fuels. With the expansion of renewable energy, India can improve air quality, reduce global warming emissions, create new industries and jobs, and help to move world towards a cleaner, safer, and affordable energy.

Current Scenario of Renewable Energy in India:

Over the years, renewable energy sector has emerged as a significant player in India especially affecting the power generation capacity. This supports the government’s agenda of sustainable development while becoming an integral part in meeting the nation’s energy needs. For past two years, the Indian Government has taken several initiatives such as introduction of the concept of solar parks, organizing RE-Invest 2015—a global investors’ meet, launching of a massive grid connected rooftop solar programme, earmarking of Rs.38,000 crore (Euros 4 billion) for a Green Energy Corridor, eight-fold increase in clean environment cess from Rs.50 per tonne to Rs.400 per tonne (Euro 0.62 to Euros 5 per tonne) , solar pump scheme with a target of installing 100,000 solar pumps and programme to train 50,000 people for solar installations under the Surya Mitra scheme, no inter-state transmission charges and losses to be levied for solar and wind power, compulsory procurement of 100 per cent power from waste to energy plants, and Renewable Generation Obligations on new thermal and lignite plants, etc.

Advantages of India:

  1. Robust Demand: With the growing Indian economy, the electricity consumption is projected to reach 15,280 TWh by 2040.
  2. Increasing Investments: With Indian government’s ambitious targets, the sector has become quite attractive to foreign and Indian investors. It is expected to attract investments upto USD 80 billion (Euros 70 billion) in next four years.
  3. Competitive Advantage: Indian has sunlight available throughout the year and has a large hydropower potential.

Renewable Energy Targets:

The Indian Government has increased the target of renewable energy capacity to 175 GW by the year 2022 which includes 100 GW from solar, 60 GW from wind, 10 GW from bio-power and 5 GW from small hydro-power.

Installed grid interactive renewable power capacity (excluding large hydropower) as of 31 March 2018 (RES MNRE)

Source

Total Installed Capacity (MW)

2022 Target

 (MW)

Wind Power

34,046

60,000

Solar Power

21,651

1,00,000

Biomass Power (Biomass & Gasification and Bagasse Cogeneration)

8,701

10,000

Waste-to-Power

138

Small Hydro Power

4,486

5,000

TOTAL

69,022

1,75,000

 

Different Renewable Energy Sources (RES):

  1. Solar Power: Solar energy is a clean energy as it produces no harmful solid, liquid or gas wastes and does not create pollution. Solar power can be produced through PV cell which is made of semiconductor and Energy Collectors classified into parabolic trough, parabolic, tower and parabolic disc system etc. With 300 clear sunny days, India receives around 5,000 trillion KWh/year, which is far more than the total energy consumption of the country today. The solar power on the surface of the earth is 1016 W whereas the total worldwide power demand for all needs of civilization is 1013 W. Therefore, the sun gives us 1000 times more power than we actually need.

 

On 30 November 2015, Indian Prime Minister and the Prime Minister of France launched the International Solar Alliance. The ISA is an alliance of 121 solar rich countries and ISA aims to promote and develop solar power amongst its members and has the objective of mobilizing $1 Trillion (Euros 883 billion) of investment by 2030. Some large projects have been proposed by Indian government, and a 35,000 km2 (14,000 sq mi) area of the Thar Desert has been set aside for solar power projects, sufficient to generate 700 to 2,100 gigawatts. India is also the home to the world's first and only 100% solar powered airport, located at Cochin, Kerala. India also has a wholly 100% solar powered railway station in Guwahati, Assam.

 

  1. Wind Power: Wind energy is turning out to be a very promising alternative energy technology of the future. Over the years, there has been considerable increase amount of energy produced by wind-driven turbines due to recent advancement in the turbine technologies. Although India is a relative newcomer to the wind industry compared with Denmark or the US, domestic policy support for wind power has led India to become the country with the fourth largest installed wind power capacity in the world. As of 30 June 2018, the installed capacity of wind power in India was 34,293 MW. Wind power accounts for 10% of India's total installed power capacity. India has set an ambitious target to generate 60,000 MW of electricity from wind power by 2022. MNRE announced a new wind-solar hybrid policy in May 2018 which means that the same piece of land will be used to house both wind farms and solar panels.

 

  1. Bio Energy: Biomass is a resource of renewable energy that is derived from carbonaceous waste of various human and natural activities. Bio energy encompasses biomass power, bagasse cogeneration, waste to energy, biomass gasifier, bio ethanol, bio diesel etc. Biomass takes carbon out of the atmosphere while it is growing, and returns it as it is burned. Given its tropical location and abundant sunshine and rains, India is an ideal environment for Biomass production. It is estimated that the potential for biomass energy in India includes 16,000 MW from biomass energy and a further 3,500 MW from bagasse cogeneration.

 

  1. Small Hydro Power (SHP): India is the 7th largest producer of hydroelectric power in the world. Hydro projects in India under 25MW capacity are classified as ‘Small Hydro Power’ and is considered as a ‘renewable energy’. SHP units with a total capacity of 4,380 MW have been installed up till now.

Government initiatives:

Some initiatives by the Government of India to boost the Indian renewable energy sector are as follows:

  1. A new Hydropower policy for 2018-28 has been drafted for the growth of hydro projects in the country.
  2. The Government of India has announced plans to implement a US$ 238 million (Euros 210 million) National Mission on advanced ultra-supercritical technologies for cleaner coal utilization.
  3. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has decided to provide custom and excise duty benefits to the solar rooftop sector, which in turn will lower the cost of setting up as well as generate power, thus boosting growth.
  4. Around 4.96 million household size biogas plants were installed in the country under the National Biogas and Manure Management Programme (NBMMP) by 2016-17.
  5. The Indian Railways is taking increased efforts through sustained energy efficient measures and maximum use of clean fuel to cut down emission level by 33 per cent by 2030.

 

Future Prospects of Renewable Energy in India:

With right investments in green technologies, we can say that India is well positioned to achieve the ambitious renewable energy targets. The pursuit towards cleaner energy will play a key role in supporting country’s transition to a full sustainable energy system. It is not a hidden fact that India is the world’s fourth-largest carbon emitter with its total population of 1.3 billion people with power sector contributing majorly to the same. However, in the recent years, India has made significant progress in field of renewable energy. Global climate change concerns have pushed the Government to develop a detailed plan for clean and sustainable power for all.

As per the research by University of Technology (LUT) in Finland, owning to an abundance of renewable resources, there is a great potential for India to move into a fully renewable electricity system by 2050. This is possible if we can employ sophisticated technologies. Renewable energy’s development in India looks bright as around 293 global and domestic companies have committed to generate 266 GW of solar, wind, mini hydel and biomass-based power in India over the next decade. This would entail an investment of $310 billion - $350 billion (Euros 27 billion to Euros 30 billion). The International Finance Corporation, the investment arm of the World Bank Group, is planning to invest about $6 billion (Euros 5 billion) by 2022 in several sustainable and renewable energy programs in India. With the investment potential of INR 15 trillion (Euros 187 billion) over the next four to five years in Indian power sector indicates immense opportunities in power generation, distribution, transmission and equipment. Further, renewable energy storage market in India is also expected to witness robust growth, over the next decade, once the cost of storage declines, which is likely to happen because of sheer volume growth through the electric vehicle route.

To conclude, we can say that India has plenty of renewable energy to bridge the gap between demand and supply so we must persistently put in efforts to harness various forms of renewable energy sources with the use of newer technologies to form a clean and safe place for our coming generations.

Gautam Khurana
29 November 2018

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2 comments :

  • Venkat Anirudh said:

    Quality information

  • Singh Seema said:

    Very very very very informative. Nicely done

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