India may miss its 300 GW solar energy target for 2030: Report

ByJayashree Nandi
Apr 13, 2022 09:32 AM IST

India is also expected to miss its goal of having 100 GW of installed solar capacity by about 27% this year

NEW DELHI: India is likely to miss its solar energy target of 300 GW (gigawatt) for 2030 by around 86 GW, a new report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) and JMK Research said on Tuesday.

Solar panels. (REUTERS PHOTO)
Solar panels. (REUTERS PHOTO)

The report said that India is also expected to miss its goal of having 100 GW of installed solar capacity by about 27% this year.

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As of December 2021, India’s cumulative installed solar capacity was 55 GW, with grid-connected utility-scale projects contributing 77%, and the rest coming from grid-connected rooftop solar (20%) and mini or micro off-grid projects (3%).

By December 2022, there is likely to be a shortfall of 25 GW from the 40 GW rooftop solar target, and 1.8 GW from the 60 GW utility-scale solar target, the report said.

The 27 GW shortfall from the 2022 target can be attributed to multiple challenges, including regulatory roadblocks, net metering limits, basic customs duty (BCD) on imported cells and modules, issues with the approved list of models and manufacturers (ALMM), unsigned power supply agreements (PSAs), banking restrictions, etc.

“The anticipated 27 GW shortfall from the 2022 solar target can be attributed to a string of challenges that are slowing overall progress on renewable energy targets,” said co-author Vibhuti Garg, energy economist and lead (India) at IEEFA, in a statement.

With eight months of 2022 remaining, only about 50% of the 100 GW target has been met. Approximately, 19 GW of solar capacity is expected to be added in 2022 – 15.8 GW from utility-scale and 3.5 GW from rooftop solar.

“Even with this capacity addition, about 27% of India’s 100 GW solar target would be unmet,” added report co-author Jyoti Gulia, founder of JMK Research.

Between 2011 and 2021, the solar energy sector in India grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 59% from 0.5 GW in 2011 to 55 GW in 2021. The Centre launched the National Solar Mission in January 2010, under which the total installed capacity target was set at 20 GW by 2022.

In 2015, the target was revised to 100 GW, with no change in the timeline. Later in August 2021, the government increased the target to 300 GW for 2030.

HT sought a response from the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) on the findings of the report. MNRE officials are yet to respond to the lag.

The MNRE website recently stated that India surpassed Italy to achieve the 5th global position in solar power deployment; the top four are China, the United States, Japan and Germany.

Solar power capacity has increased by more than 11 times in the last five years, from 2.6 GW in March 2014 to 30 GW in July 2019. At present, the solar tariff in India is competitive and has achieved grid parity. Solar tariff in India reduced by more than 75% using a plug-and-play model, where all regulatory clearances will be made available to investors.

“India’s capacity addition exercise in the utility-scale domain has been commendable. The utility scale segment is on track to achieve nearly 97% of its 60 GW target. On the other hand, rooftop solar has severely underperformed over the years, with just over a quarter of the 40 GW target being achieved. By December 2022, this segment is expected to fall short of its target by 25 GW. It is imperative to have greater focus on, and more concerted efforts towards expanding rooftop solar,” the report said.

IEEFA and JMK Research have recommended short-term and long-term policies to fast-track progress in the sector. These include uniform policies to apply nationally for at least the next five years, consistent regulations for net metering and banking facilities to apply nationally, restrictions on banking revoked at least until rooftop targets have been achieved, stricter enforcement of the renewable purchase obligation (RPO) by states, a capital subsidy for battery energy storage systems (BESS), among others.

Speaking at the Glasgow climate summit on November 1 last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that India’s non-fossil energy capacity will reach 500 GW by 2030, meeting 50% of the country’s energy requirements by then. He said that India will reduce its total projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes by 2030, reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by 45% by 2030, over 2005 levels, and achieve net-zero emissions by 2070.

“India’s solar energy target of 100 GW for 2022, set in 2014, was predicated on a high growth rate in the economy. With the economy not performing as expected due to many factors, predominantly the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, total electricity demand has not grown as per expectations, limiting room for capacity additions of solar. In this scenario, missing the target by a significant margin is not unexpected. We might see a similar effect for the 2030 targets as well if economic growth is subdued in this decade. This simply means that the government has to do much more than what it is already doing in terms of policy push to meet the internationally stated 2030 target,” said Vaibhav Chaturvedi, fellow at Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW).

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