India is on track to overshoot a key Paris Agreement target by nearly 60% by obtaining close to two-thirds of its installed electricity capacity from renewable sources by 2030, according to a new report from the country’s Central Electricity Authority (CEA).
The 63% share of capacity from renewables would translate into 44% of the country’s actual power generation, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) reports.
While the CEA’s analysis does make “a base forecast for thermal power capacity of 291 gigawatts by 2030, a clear expansion from the 225 GW operating as of March 2019,” the agency is confident “that thermal capacity will drop from 64% to just 35% of total installed capacity in only 11 years,” IEEFA states in a briefing note.
The CEA’s energy models “also take into account that India will need 34 gigawatts/136 gigawatt-hours of battery energy storage systems by 2030 to balance the grid reliability and stability needs of 440 GW of variable renewable energy capacity, supported by 73 GW of hydro and 10 GW of biomass,” IEEFA says. With battery costs down 30% in 2018 alone, “this ambitious forecast could prove to be prescient”.
The IEEFA analysis adds that the higher ambition is sorely needed: many Indian cities rank among the most polluted in the world, the World Bank places the country’s air pollution costs at the equivalent of 8.5% of GDP, and many communities face extreme and growing water shortages. The increase in renewable energy will also “help mitigate India’s chronic over-reliance on fossil fuel imports, which cause inflation and erode the value of the rupee”.
While the country is “making huge strides” in its efforts to build more renewable capacity, with 13 GW of solar projects tendered in June alone, IEEFA stresses the need to integrate and coordinate all national and state efforts—including green energy juggernaut Gujarat, home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Solar-rich Gujarat has raised its renewable energy ambition by aiming for at least 30 GW of renewable energy generation capacity by 2022—some 17% of the national 175-GW target by that point,” IEEFA noted in an earlier report.
The state will achieve part of its target with rooftop solar, with Finance Minister Nitin Patel announcing a US$145-million plan to provide panels to 200,000 families. “Under the program,” says IEEFA, “households will receive a subsidy worth 40% of the cost of rooftop systems with a capacity of up to three kilowatts, and a 20% subsidy for systems with capacities of three to 10 kW.”
Another 8.8 GW of wind power and 255 MW of biomass will boost Gujarat’s contribution to the national target.
IEEFA cites the expansion of “quality interstate grid transmission” as a “critical prerequisite” to hitting the national goal.