Having set itself an ambitious goal of reaching 175GW of clean energy generation by March 2022, India is well on its way to achieving these targets with the nation already producing 75 GW of renewable energy from all sources as of Feb 2019, which represents 21.43% of all energy generation in the country. The deficits faced by the nation on multiple fronts are being addressed by the powers that be, but the shortages in the power sector remain a challenge to be overcome. Shortages, high tariffs and a dependence on imported fuels remains an albatross around the neck; distribution remains a weak link in the chain, and continues to inhibit the inflow of investments. These are the challenges we must address if the power sector is not to impede India’s economic growth.
The sun is shining on India’s solar sector in a big way. India is well and truly making bold steps towards meeting the government’s pledge to make non-fossil fuels 40% of the total power generation capacity of the nation by the year 2032. Of this, the plan is to add 100 gigawatts (GW) of solar power by 2022. India has always faced energy paucity issues, and given our ample coverage of sunlight, solar energy could play a big role in reducing India’s import dependence for its power needs.
India’s ascension to the rank of a global leader in renewable energy can be seen in the fact that it ranks second only to Chile among emerging economies powering the transition to clean energy, according to a 2018 Climatescope report by energy researcher BloombergNEF. Increased investments, clean energy installations, and the world’s largest renewables auction market are just some of the factors underlying India’s rise as a leader on the energy front.
There could not be a more pressing time to make this change. India’s electricity sector generates roughly 1.2 trillion kWh of electricity annually, which divides roughly into 1,000 kWh per person. This is distinctly low by global standards; it is roughly one-quarter that of China and one-thirteenth that of the US. That the world’s fastest-growing has massive energy requirements is not surprising, but it might well mean having to double our energy output by 2030 to sustain this pace of growth. Moreover, climate change worries mean that it cannot be business-as-usual for India, and our dependence on fossil fuels needs to go the way of the dinosaur.
This leaves renewable energy as not just the obvious alternative, but really the only one. India is making rapid strides to transform its energy mix and move towards renewable sources, but challenges by way of affordability and last-mile connectivity remain. These are roadblocks that must be overcome as we look to drive down our dependence and the cost of energy derived from fossil sources.
While the last decade has seen India’s renewable energy capacity grow remarkably, much more is needed. Optimal grid management is one such thing so that we can better manage the intermittent nature of renewable energy. This intermittency must be better managed if renewable energy is to become the predominant energy source.
India’s demand for renewable energy is expected to grow seven times by 2035, thus renewable energy will comprise 8% of the country’s fuel mix by 2035. Some believe that solar power tariffs may fall further still, with experts clamoring for commercially viable energy storage solutions, which will help achieve grid stability. Thus, with solar shining bright in India, it’s time for energy companies to make the most of the opportunities before them.