India Targets 35% Renewable Energy Share In Installed Capacity Mix By 2050

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Gujarat Solar Park
An aerial view of the Charanka Solar Park in Gujarat, India

2040-50 may finally be the decade when the installed renewable energy capacity in India would overtake the coal-based installed capacity, if the ambitious Integrated Plan for Desert Power Development is fully realized.

Under the Desert Power India – 2050 plan, a gargantuan 455 GW of renewable energy capacity addition has been targeted to meet India’s ever-growing need for electricity. According to a government enterprise, the Asian giant would require an installed power base of 1,388 GW, compared to the current 250 GW.

About two-thirds of this 455 GW renewable energy capacity would be installed in the desert wastelands of India, spread across the northern and western parts of the country. The arid regions of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir in the north, and That Desert of Rajasthan and marshland of Kutch in Gujarat in the western part, have been identified for this project.

The plan is to harness 5-15% of the wasteland available in these arid regions to tap the vast solar and wind energy potential. Upon harvesting 95% of the solar and wind energy potential available on 10% of the area, a total of 271 GW of solar power capacity and 29 GW of wind power capacity would be installed.

Renewable energy sources currently contribute about 12% to India’s installed capacity base, with a capacity of about 32 GW. With an installed renewable energy base of 485 GW in 2050, the share of renewable energy capacity would increase to 35%, while the share of coal-based power capacity would be 32%.

With 300 GW capacity coming from the desert areas, the balance 155 GW capacity would come from states rich in renewable energy resources – Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra among others. These states are likely to contribute 55 GW capacity, while 70 GW capacity would contributed through biomass, waste-to-power, small hydro power, rooftop and canal-top solar power projects across the country. Offshore wind energy capacity is expected to contribute about 30 GW.

The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) has already started working on four ultra mega solar power plants in these arid regions. The Indian Finance Ministry recently announced a Rs 500 crore ($90 million) outlay for these projects. The government would also support the construction of ‘Green Corridors’ – transmission networks dedicated to carry electricity generated from renewable energy projects.

Image credit: Gujarat Power Corporation Limited

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Mridul Chadha

Mridul currently works as Head-News & Data at Climate Connect Limited, a market research and analytics firm in the renewable energy and carbon markets domain. He earned his Master’s in Technology degree from The Energy & Resources Institute in Renewable Energy Engineering and Management. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering. Mridul has a keen interest in renewable energy sector in India and emerging carbon markets like China and Australia.

Mridul Chadha has 425 posts and counting. See all posts by Mridul Chadha

12 thoughts on “India Targets 35% Renewable Energy Share In Installed Capacity Mix By 2050

  • This is extremely disheartening news. Half renewable capacity by 2050 means, given solar’s and wind’s low capacity factors, that fossils will deliver 80% or more of actual energy. So what this piece is saying is that there there will be a massive expansion of coal and gas, with no end in sight, for the country who will soon be the worlds most populous.

    • Yes. The implied addition to fossil and nuclear power is 683 GW. Mercifully, this is impossible. India does not have a fraction of China’s capability in rolling out nuclear reactors, and China’s optimistic target for 2020 is only 58 GW. India’s coal industry, run by a nationalised dinosaur, is in crisis; imports from Australia and Indonesia are too expensive. The good news is simply the higher short-term renewables targets. These are much more likely to be met, leading to an upwards revision of the plan. India is a democracy, and elected politician need results.

      Two other concerns. I’ve said my piece here against India’s priority for remote megaprojects over smaller and more distributed generation close to consumers. This will slow down deployment, as the grid (link) is another nationalized dinosaur. The other is the lack of emphasis on efficiency. It’s true that India has low electricity consumption per head, and this needs to rise, but I’d be amazed if there weren’t a lot of low hanging efficiency fruit. Are all those irrigation pumps modern and efficient?

      • True, forgot about nuclear. Let’s hope much of the rest is nuclear, and that they get the help they need with that. “Mercifully” for the climate if they can’t scale coal, yes, but fairly horrible short-term for the Indians. They do need much more energy. At 90 W electricity per capita where China is at 450 W (and the US at 1400 W), I think efficiency can’t be the answer. I read somewhere that 250,000 children every year die of respiratory illnesses due to indoor cooking with dung and wood in India.

        • On the indoor cooking over fire, the Biolite project has been having good success at not only reducing the smoke hazard but also provides small scale electricity production for lights and phones over the past couple years. It could be different ideas like this that help the poor have access to some electricity without expansion of the grid, and provide enough savings in fuel and time for investment in small scale solar sooner.
          With the different economic consideration you are called middle class in India at an income of 30 rupees a day (barely enough to eat if you live in one of the cities). So a variety of solutions such as the Biolite will be what helps the majority that we consider to be living in poverty have comfortable lives.
          Another comparison for you, my relations that live in New Delhi and consider themselves as middle class but are wealthy compared to many because of having a mini refrigerator and six family retainers (servants), after a five year wait finally got their 1.2 Kw solar system installed last fall. Since March they have had enough extra production to run lines to a couple of the neighbors to help out during the daily blackouts and make a little extra money. Something that is definitely against the policy and rules of the power companies, but one of the ways that in the future I bet will be how the regular people of India provide their own grid and electric access for all.

          • Biolite and PV sounds nice. That is certainly much better than not having power, but I think it is a failure on the part of government to not supply a well functioning grid with adequate supply. It should really be top priority.

          • Considering that Australia is now planning to roll back its grid connections in rural areas on account of how it is cheaper to use off grid renewables combined with energy storage, extending the grid is unlikely to always be the cost effective option for supplying rural India with electricity.

          • I agree in principle, but I think rural India and rural Australia might not be comparable. Certainly, India overall has more than 100 times the population density of Australia. I assume that the percentage of Indians that it is reasonable to leave off-grid is very, very small.

          • My guess is the number of Indians who will be content to wait for the grid to come to them won’t be that large.

          • It’s likely that India will now be grid-connected from the bottom up rather than in the normal top down method.

            Micro-solar is likely to be wildly successful because the cost of getting a small amount of power into individual’s hands is very small, something they can personally afford, and not dependent on very large government projects, something at which India does not excel.

            Many homes may stay off-grid for a long time, even forever.

            Others, closer together, may build local grids in order to share a small wind turbine, micro hydro turbine, or biogas generator. Gradually these small localized grids might merge if the need is found.

      • There is also some potential for geothermal for both electricity and process heat. Present assessments put this potential at around 10 GW with current technology, however with advances in deep drilling and improved prospecting techniques reducing “dry wells”, and hybridisation with concentrating solar thermal, the contribution could go much higher than 10 GW by 2050.

  • Though this is an attainable figure technically,in India most of the major projects depend on political will and support. Once Wind was given a big boost,now solar. In essence what is needed for a populous country like India which is power deficient is an integrated approach involving Energy from both conventional and Renewable Energy Sources. Often ignored is vast scope for Biofuel/biogas power from care-free growth,regenerative CAM plants like Agave and Opuntia. Windfarm/solar co-operatives,Offshore Windfarms,Energy conservation in Agricultural pump sets,Energy saving in lighting by switching over to CFLs and Digital lighting from Florescent lights.
    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

  • There’s another side to India’s solar plans. Prime Minister Modi recently announced that he intends to get electricity to every single house in India by 2019 even if it’s only a single light bulb.

    By that, he means that everyone will at least have a solar lantern which will allow them to cease using kerosene for lighting. If this is done correctly then the lives of the poorest will be greatly improved. And it will free up a small amount of money that they could then use to add a second light or build a small solar system to give them a modest amount of electricity.×7-power-power-tariffs

    A billion kerosene lamps add a significant amount of CO2 and soot to our climate problems.

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