HT Environment Conclave: India is poised to meet renewable energy target by 2030, says Teri official
India is on course to raising its renewable energy capacity from the current 100 GW to its target of 500 GW by 2030 within the deadline the country has set for itself, a top official at The Energy and Resources Institute (Teri) said on Thursday.
“The milestone of installing 100 GW of renewable energy is not small; it’s a significant milestone. In fact, we have 107 GW now and if we include other non-fossil energy sources such as hydro, nuclear, etc, we have 157 GW. So, another 340 GW is to be added by 2030 to achieve our climate goal, which translates to 40 GW per year,” AK Saxena, senior director, electricity & fuels division at Teri, said at the HT Environment Conclave.
He added that, in the last few years, India has already been adding around 12 GW of renewable energy per year.
“Ground mounted solar tariffs fell to very low levels. We saw tariffs in the order of ₹2.44 per kWh (kilowatt hour) from solar parks. The round-the-clock supply from solar which is storage plus solar energy also saw tariffs of ₹4 per kWh. This makes renewables very competitive to be integrated with the grid. Many conventional power plants will be challenged by this competitiveness of renewable energy. Since sustained policy direction is there and ambition has been renewed at Glasgow, it is possible to achieve the goal,” Saxena said.
He pointed out that economic growth was impacted due to the Covid pandemic, but the growth in demand for electricity will pick up again.
India’s energy needs are expected to double in the next 20 years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his inaugural address at the World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS) on Wednesday, adding that denying people this energy would be the equivalent of denying life to millions.
In the Union Budget 2022, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, too, announced an allocation of ₹19,500 crore to boost manufacturing of solar modules under the government’s flagship production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme.
Saxena said the PLI scheme will be critical to get India closer to its renewable energy goal, pointing out that translating installed renewable energy capacity to actual energy generation is one of the biggest challenges.
“Storage is the most important challenge. Solar energy can be utilised when the sun is shining, and wind is available only when wind is blowing. But in a country like India with a growing population, urbanisation, and middle-class incomes, the demand is more in the evening peak hours when the sun is not shining. And wind is available based on the season for 4-5 months in a year. To meet this challenge, we need a balanced combination of energy efficiency, demand-side management, and shifting load from evening hours to sunny hours. It’s good news that the cost of battery storage is also coming down but it has not come down to a level where one can say it’s very attractive,” he said.
Despite these challenges, with improved battery energy storage of solar and wind and nuclear, hydro, biomass energy, 42% of India’s energy could come from non-fossil sources by 2030, Saxena said, referring to a 2021Teri analysis.
He added that, on the power-generation side, India needs to improve efficiency and enhance thermal power plants from sub-critical to super critical and advanced super critical technology.
“With these and other interventions, India is likely to meet its net-zero emissions goal by 2070,” Saxena said.
Last November, PM Modi announced at the Glasgow climate conference (COP 26) that India’s non-fossil fuel energy capacity will reach 500 GW by 2030, meeting 50% of the country’s energy requirements by then. India will also 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.
“Over a decade ago, fewer companies invested in environmental, social and governance (ESG) or understood it. According to Bloomberg Intelligence, there is an increased emphasis on adopting sustainable growth along with a surge in ESG investing globally with these assets surpassing $35 trillion by the end of 2020. COP26 and the months preceding it were a strong signal that the world has changed. Climate action, which was always seen as a ‘good to do’ activity, suddenly took center-stage with the world’s largest companies pledging their net-zero commitments,” Priya Agarwal Hebbar, non-executive director at Vedanta, said.