India looks likely to miss its ambitious goal of installing 100 gigawatts of solar and 75 GW of wind capacity by 2022, according to a new analysis that shows coal supplying about 60% of the country’s electricity as late as 2040.
Falling about 25% short of the 2022 target will still leave India with an impressive increase in renewables generation, Greentech Media reports. But an assessment by energy and power analysts at Wood Mackenzie—Greentech’s parent company—also shows the domestic coal industry “struggling to keep up with demand”, with imports growing this year from 158 to 164 million tons.
On the renewables side, “despite significant cost reductions in both technologies and strong government support in the country, Wood Mackenzie only expects India to get to 76% of [the 175-GW] target” for solar and wind, Greentech states. WoodMac solar analyst Rishab Shrestha attributes the shortfall to cancelled renewable energy auctions, as well as new equipment duties that are driving up solar prices, leading state-run distribution companies to scale back new project approvals.
India Ratings & Research reached a similar conclusion earlier this month, cautioning that “the recent scrapping of solar auctions around tariff concerns can derail the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy target to achieve 100 gigawatts of solar capacity by FY22.” That assessment also pointed to the depreciation of the rupee against the U.S. dollar as a “threat to the economic viability of Indian solar tariffs”.
But even so, India has more than doubled its solar and wind capacity since 2014, exceeding 61 GW this year, with auctions driving down the cost of renewable electricity. Shrestha sees solar costs falling by another 31% over the next five years, wind by 23%, “as new generation technologies replace old ones.” Non-hydro renewables are expected to deliver 13% of the country’s electricity supply by 2023—mostly by wresting market share away from coal.
And India’s medium- and longer-term renewable energy prospects look good, with discussions on the country’s 2030 targets already under way. “Improving grid flexibility through storage and flexible power generation will be extremely crucial in achieving high levels of renewable penetration,” Shrestha said. By 2040, the country’s non-hydro renewables capacity is expected to increase seven-fold, to 384 GW, and meet 20% of electricity demand.
And yet, WoodMac principal analyst Pralabh Bhargava also sees a bright future for coal, with continuing growth in industrial production pushing up demand. “In the steel sector, India’s hot metal production was up 10% year on year for January to August,” he said. “With limited domestic upside in metallurgical coal production, steelmakers relied more on imported coking coal.”