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India Turns to Renewable Energy Sources to Power the Economy

Renewable Energy

India is an emerging economy with growing energy requirements to fuel its industrial advancement. India’s power sector sources its energy from a mix of coal, oil, nuclear, hydro and renewables like solar and wind. However, India’s energy mix has always remained a concern for the policymakers as it gives excessive emphasis on thermal energy, a source of huge CO2 emissions.

This becomes challenging at the time when India has to reduce its carbon emissions under the Paris Agreement that aims to combat climate change and intensify efforts towards a low carbon future.

Response to the Problem

Recognising the growing need on the energy front, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the vision for changing this energy mix and replacing fossil fuel-based power sector with cleaner energy options like solar and wind energy. His government has aimed at setting up the installed capacity of 175 GW from renewable energy sources by 2022, of which 100 GW is to come from solar power and 60 GW from wind power.

Achievements So Far

As intended, the government is moving at a determined pace to achieve the set goals. Let’s crunch some numbers to measure the progress in both solar and wind energy segments before and after 2014.

Solar Power

*Approximated Figures

Source: 1. Annual Report, MNRE 2013-14  2. Physical Progress, MNRE        

As shown in the graph above, India had the installed solar power capacity of only around 2.65 GW as of March 2014, but this increased almost ten-fold to 23 GW by July 2018. The significant increase in the installed capacity of solar energy has been gaining recognition from several quarters.

According to Mercom’s India Solar Project Tracker, India achieved the target of 20 GW of solar energy in 2018, four years ahead of the original deadline of 2022 as per the National Solar Mission. The report further says, This demonstrates the commitment by the new government, which is working hard to achieve the revised target of 100 GW solar by the year 2022.”

Wind Power

*Approximated Figures

Source: 1. Annual Report, MNRE 2013-14  2. Physical Progress, MNRE

As can be noted from the above graph, more than half of the wind energy as on March 2014, i.e. 13 GW, has been added in the last 4 years. In fact, implementation of projects has been so fast that India reportedly added 5.4 GW of wind energy within a year (2016-17).

According to the data provided by the Global Wind Statistics of 2017, amount of wind energy that India added to its installation capacity was more than what Japan, South Korea, France, Turkey, Italy and Spain added cumulatively.

Total Renewable Energy – Comparison UPA Vs. NDA

A comparison has been drawn as to how the two governments increased the total renewable energy installed capacity in India over a period of 4 years.

* Data as on March 31, 2014

** Data as on July 30, 2018 on MNRE Website

Note – Approximate figures taken from annual reports of MNRE.

Thus, it can clearly be observed from the above graph that change in total installed capacity of renewable energy is much greater under the present government. Under the NDA government, capacity not only doubled but saw an addition of 10 GW to the total renewable energy installed capacity.

Improving India’s Energy Mix

* Approximated figures ** Source – CEA

* Approximated figures ** Source – CEA

Key Takeaways
  • In the overall electricity mix, weightage given to the installed capacity of thermal power has reduced than what it was in 2014. However, there is an increase in the installed capacity of renewable energy sources.
  • For the first time, energy from renewable sources has exceeded the energy from hydroelectricity, which can provide a potential solution to the challenges of constructing mega dams in the future.
  • Within the gambit of renewable energy sources, a significant increase in solar power reflects the timely attention given by the government to the non-conventional sources of energy. India, being a tropical country, has begun harnessing its solar power potential, taking its share to around 23 GW from mere 2.65 GW four years back. In fact, India has reportedly become the third largest solar market in the world in the last four years.

India is not only adding to its renewable energy capacity but is also emerging as a leader in harnessing solar energy. Even in wind energy, it is proving to be performing significantly well as compared to many other developed countries, as discussed above. The recent set of targets achieved show that the government is capable of delivering on the commitments made. With this performance record, India is on the right path to ensure an installed capacity of 175 GWs of renewable energy by 2022.

Our Previous Articles on Solar Energy:

Solar Power: How India Triggered a Global Revolution

Are India’s Solar Power Plans Unrealistic?

International Solar Alliance Summit: How India Charted a New Path

The Map of Solar Energy: A Review