India is blessed with vast renewable energy potential with more than 300 sunny days, 7600 kilometres of coastline, and considerable number of perpetual rivers. Therefore, it becomes an evident option for India to promote renewable energy to its fullest potential. But somehow the generation from renewable sources in India (considering its wide potential) was disappointing till 2005. But now, the country has one of the largest programmes in the world for deploying renewable energy products and systems. Renewable energy sources become the best solution in the present conditions - where the energy demand is ever-increasing – and as these sources are not exhaustible, clean and green.
The renewable energy sector is targeted to reach 175 GW by 2022 which includes 100 GW of solar, 60 GW of wind power, 5 GW from small hydro plants and 10 GW from biomass sources. The renewable energy sector has been at the forefront of growth in capacity development in India with the country's renewable energy installed capacity having grown by more than 200% in the last five years. India till March, 2020 has a total installed generation capacity of around 370 GW out of which renewable energy has a share of more than 23%. The country has solar installed capacity of around 32.3 GW and wind installed capacity of around 37.8 GW as of June, 2020. This is in line with India's intended Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) target to achieve about 40% cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources and to reduce the emission intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35% from the 2005 level by 2030.
As per research by the University of Technology (LUT) in Finland, owing to an abundance of renewable resources, there is a great potential for India to move into a fully renewable electricity system by 2050 which is possible by largely investing in green energy and employing newer advanced technologies. Unfortunately, still 300 million people in India have limited or no access to electricity. We need to provide these people with reliable and affordable electricity and RE seems to be the sustainable solution.
Renewable energy is a critical part of India's plan not only to add capacity but also to increase energy security and address environmental concerns. The Indian government has introduced policies and regulations for development of the RE sector across grid connected, off-grid and hybrid segments which include the Solar Park scheme, the Viability Gap Funding (VGF) scheme, the CPSU scheme, the canal bank and the canal top scheme, the defence scheme, the bundling scheme, the grid connected solar rooftop scheme, the KUSUM scheme for solar water pumping, the DDUGJY scheme for rural mini grids and the AJAY scheme for solar street lights. The KUSUM scheme aims to add RE capacity of 28 GW by 2022.
It is pertinent here to mention that India has the largest solar park in the world located at Bhadla in Rajasthan with installed capacity of 2.2 GW and second largest wind farm in the world at Muppandal in Tamil Nadu with installed capacity of 1.5GW.
The Indian government has given various incentives and subsidies to the RE sector which includes capital subsidy of 30% to 70% on benchmark cost for rooftop solar projects for certain categories of consumers, home loan to include loan for rooftop solar installation, accelerated depreciation and concessional loans. The state governments are also being encouraged to provide subsidies to farmers for installation of solar water pumping systems to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels. Such support of subsidies and accelerated depreciation benefit have resulted in achieving grid parity in solar and wind energy and finally RE has emerged as the least expensive option to meet India's rising energy needs. India's solar and wind power tariff hit a record low of below `2.50 per unit and below `3.00 per unit respectively during the latest bid conducted by tendering agencies. Modern RE is not only used in generation of electricity but has great potential for heating, cooling and transportation as well. India has good climatic conditions for the concentrated solar thermal (CST) system. Industries showing good potential for implementation of such systems include chemicals, textiles, fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, food processing, dairy, paper and rubber. New areas of opportunities emerging in the RE sector include wind - solar hybrid with estimated capacity of 2 GW, off-shore wind energy with the target of 30 GW by 2030 and floating PV projects with the potential of 300 GW and target of 30 GW by 2022. The future looks bright as India has set a target of 450 GW of RE power by 2030 which is estimated to attract $500 billion worth of investment by 2028. India could become the fourth largest RE power market worldwide by 2030.
The author is the General Manager, ENVIRON SOLAR PVT. LTD.