Climate change could impact Maharashtra’s renewable energy potential: IITM study

Published on Aug 17, 2022 12:20 AM IST

Pune’s Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) study poses a question about Maharashtra’s push for renewable energy claiming that climate change is set to impact solar and wind energy potential over the next five decades

Pune’s Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) study poses a question about Maharashtra’s push for renewable energy claiming that climate change is set to impact solar and wind energy potential over the next five decades. (Getty Images/iStockphoto (PIC FOR REPRESENTATION))
Pune’s Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) study poses a question about Maharashtra’s push for renewable energy claiming that climate change is set to impact solar and wind energy potential over the next five decades. (Getty Images/iStockphoto (PIC FOR REPRESENTATION))

A latest study by researchers at Pune’s Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) has posed a question about Maharashtra’s push for renewable energy claiming that climate change is set to impact solar and wind energy potential over the next five decades.

Maharashtra currently ranks among the top states in terms of installed renewable energy capacity (10.78 GW) with Wind power capacity of 5.01 GW and solar power capacity of 2.75 GW contributing the most, that includes being second on the race on decentralised renewable energy (DRE). As of 30th June 2022, renewable energy contributes 24.36% percentage to Maharashtra’s power mix.

This has prompted the state to launch an ambitious initiative to build new solar plants throughout districts to produce 12 gigawatt (GW) of renewable energy over the course of the next six years with the goal of increasing the amount of available power and lowering power purchase costs in the future. Meanwhile, the state also accounts for 15% of the country’s wind energy potential.

This study titled ‘Analysis of future wind and solar potential over India using climate models’ has been published in the peer-reviewed journal Current Science recently and has been authored by TS Anandh, Deepa Gopalakrihsnan and Parthasarathi Mukhopadhyay, researchers from IITM Pune under the Ministry of Earth Sciences as well as Centre For Prototype Climate Modelling, New York University, Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Researchers carried out the study by using various state of the art climate models, devised by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),to analyse the wind and solar projections for the renewable energy sector over the Indian subcontinent for the immediate future (next 40 years).

“Our industry must adapt to the changing climate, and our technologies must keep pace. Such predictions should not be taken as facts, but as possibilities. The efficiency of renewable energy may be impacted by climate change in Maharashtra and the neighbouring areas. The study emphasises the importance of being prepared for scenarios of this kind and addressing it,” said Mukhopadhyay.

The researchers also said that in the case of wind potential, Maharashtra and surrounding regions show a positive trend in most of the climate models. “The monsoon months are projected to be more windy and cloudy in the coming years. This region also records positive potential in the future but it is not to the same extent as the rest of central India,” added Mukhopadhyay.

Maharashtra has a reasonable wind potential of roughly 45 GW and 100 GW at 100m and 120m, respectively.

The forecasts for the future are important, since on August 3, India published a new set of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) for the international fight against climate change. According to the updated NDCs to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), India has set out on a mission to meet up to 50% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2030.

Study highlighted in Parliament, Union minister responds

On August 2, the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy was questioned in Rajya Sabha regarding the research study by IITM Pune which states that changing climate patterns are likely to reduce the generation of solar power in the country and also affect the major wind power plants in certain regions.

RK Singh, union minister for MNRE & Power, said that the government was taking various actions to raise the effectiveness of wind and solar power facilities. According to Singh, MNRE is funding research and development under the “Renewable Energy Research and Technology Development Program” in a variety of areas, including enhancing solar cell efficiency, resource assessment, precise forecasting techniques, raising hub heights for wind turbines, and making larger rotor blades.

Anjal Prakash, research director and adjunct associate professor with the Bharti Institute of Public Policy at the Indian School of Business (ISB) said, “This is a very important study which shows the future potential of solar and wind energy. The problem is that, presently, India has not fully utilised its potential to harness renewable energy – solar and wind. This study shows future projections and can be very handy for policy and business decisions.”

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