Climate crisis likely to hit India’s renewable energy potential: Study
Climate crisis is likely to impact India’s renewable energy potential, according to a research paper published in Current Science journal on Thursday.
While solar radiation over most active solar farming regions is expected to decrease during all seasons, the annual wind speed is likely to reduce in north India and increase in some parts of south India, it added.
Central and south central India must be considered for investments in the solar power sector during the pre-monsoon months as the potential radiation loss is likely to be minimal in these regions, the paper said.
Frequency of high energy-producing wind speeds will decrease as a whole but those of low energy-producing wind speeds are likely to increase, a regional analysis of wind potential indicated. Solar energy production is expected to decrease in the immediate future and this can be attributed to an increase in total cloud cover in the coming years, the paper said.
“The present study shows that renewable energy fields of solar and wind potential in India are likely to face a negative trend in the future. This can be overcome by including more farms and using highly efficient power generators than those available at present,” the paper written by researchers at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, earth sciences ministry, Center for Prototype Climate Modelling and New York University (Abu Dhabi) said.
The researchers said that the future potential of wind and solar energy in India was analysed using ensembles of climate models. The climate simulations for the past 55 years and future projections for as many years were considered from six models for the analysis.
The future projections were made for various emission scenarios.
Solar potential will decrease in the near future over most of India, the research suggested. Wind potential over the onshore regions showed an increasing trend; offshore regions showed a decreasing trend for non-monsoon months, the research said.
The southern coasts of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu showed promising potential for wind energy, it added.
“Climate change is expected to impact future renewable energy production. Therefore, investors in this sector should understand and consider possible changes. Solar radiation is estimated to decrease (10–15 watt per square metre Wm–2) over the next 50 years during all seasons. With the estimated decrease in future wind and solar potential, expanded and more efficient networks of wind and solar farms are needed to increase renewable energy production,” the paper said.
One of the models of wind speed for future projections indicated that it will increase in the Gangetic plains and decrease on the western coast. The same model showed little change for India’s eastern and south-eastern parts. The eastern offshore regions showed a reduction in wind speed, the paper said.
All the models suggested a decrease in wind speed in the west coast offshore regions.
Some models suggested solar radiations will be the lowest in the decades to come and improve in central and south-central India between 2040 and 2070.
India receives maximum solar radiation during the pre-monsoon months and minimum during the winters. North-west India, which comprises maximum number of solar farms, showed reduced future projections of solar radiation throughout the year, barring the pre-monsoon months.
Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand showed an increase in future solar projections, the paper said.
Climate scientist M Rajeevan said heat waves and high solar radiation may increase over the span of a few days but the study focused on all seasons. “During the rest of the seasons, clouding and moisture levels are expected to increase. More moisture means solar radiation will weaken. That is why the paper suggests that solar radiation will reduce.”
Rajeevan referred to the possible decrease in offshore wind potential on the west coast, saying monsoon winds are expected to weaken. “But projections for rainfall are good in the coming decades. So, winds over the west coast will reduce… There are chances of model errors in such studies based on model ensembles. But the message is clear: climate change will impact our renewable energy potential which is why renewable energy projects should be planned for the future.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report released in August last year said heatwaves and humid heat stress will be more intense and frequent during the 21st century in South Asia.