While much of the world is seeing energy, demand take a dive thanks to the economic and industrial slowdown spurred by the novel coronavirus pandemic, India has been making great strides to get more people connected to the grid than ever.
Historically, much of the Indian subcontinent’s rural populations had no access to electricity, but the government has made electrifying all of India a major priority in the last year and a half. In order to supply the 1.353 billion who, live in India (a conservative estimate that’s already two years old, by the way) with energy while still meeting New Delhi’s climate commitments, the country has set some extremely ambitious renewable energy targets.
In 2015, as part of the Paris climate accord, India pledged that it would reach 350 Gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity by just 2030, and far more recently, at the 2019 Climate Week in New York, India upped its ante to 450 GW over the next ten years.
While these targets are ambitious, to say the least, Sanjiv Nandan Sahai, Power Secretary for India, stated this week that his country is on track to meet its lofty renewable energy commitments. As of September 30, 2020, India’s renewable energy capacity clocked in at about 90 GW, primarily sourced from wind and solar (with wind accounting for 38 GW and solar accounting for 36 GW). wind energy has been growing in India for twenty years now, while the nation has only been ramping up its solar capacity for half that time.
This means that, despite the Power Secretary’s optimistic assertions, India has a long way to go to meet its climate targets, and 2030 is just around the corner. In order to install the deficit 250 GW of renewable energy capacity by that deadline, India needs to install 25-35GW of renewable energy capacity every year, which is more than double the current rate. “This would require concerted policy effort, including on the following:
- Demand creation for renewable energy;
- Revenue certainty for renewable energy power projects;
- Risk reduction for development, construction, and operation of these projects; and
- System integration of variable and intermittent renewable energy supply,”