How Will India Achieve Its Renewable Energy Goals?

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India has a population of over one billion people and therefore requires large electricity supplies. Over the next ten years the nation has some ambitious targets to hit relating to its electricity supply especially when it comes to renewable energy.

Not only is India home to over one billion people it is also one of the largest countries on Earth by land area meaning the nation has a vast economy and large military.

Due to the sheer size of the country and its population it therefore has very large electricity demands. In 2018, BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy estimated that the primary consumption in India reached 809.2 million tons of oil equivalent. This puts India third out of all nations with only the U.S. and China coming first.

In the renewable sector, India has set itself some ambitious targets. The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, and his government are targeting 175 gigawatts of renewable capacity by 2022 and 450 gigawatts by the end of this decade. To put these numbers into perspective, at the end of January this year India’s total installed capacity for all electricity sources was 369 gigawatts, according to data from the government. Breaking this figure down, renewable sources; solar, wind, hydro and bio power only accounted for 86.3 gigawatts of the total installed capacity.

However, critics are doubtful that India will achieve the 2022 target of 175 gigawatts of renewable energy.

Tim Buckley, who is from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis informed CNBC that India had lost their momentum in investing in renewable energy over the last 18 months and therefore the 2022 target was more than likely out of reach.

Buckley went on to say that too much inconsistency and change in India’s policy’s, along with state centre conflicts and contradictions from the national policy objective have stalled the progress in improving the renewable industry in the country.

An example of conflicts that India faces was the aim to ensure renewable energy installations would be low cost, however at the same time India increased costs of import duties to try and strengthen the ‘Make in India’ manufacturing strategy.

Ajay Shankar, from The Energy and Resources Institute also agreed that it would be ‘clearly challenging’ for India to increase its renewable installed capacity from 86 gigawatts to 175 gigawatts in two years. However, Shankar did praise the progress India has made in the renewable sector as in 2010 India had less than one gigawatt of installed capacity, a number that has now increased vastly. This would need to scale up rapidly over the next two years if India stand a chance of reaching their 2022 target, he did also note.

The longer term goal for India to install 450 gigawatts by 2030 will be a challenge which will have a large effect on the landscape of the country. The target has been seen as aggressive but still achievable goal but will only be achieved if the government provide consistency, policy stability and transparency.

Some people believe that new battery storage systems may be the answer to their problems. Sources such as wind and solar power both provide renewable energy however, they cannot be relied upon for a consistent, stable and reliable stream of power as they rely on the wind and sun respectively.

Therefore, if renewable systems become the main part of India’s energy network then battery storage systems will also be incredibly important to provide electricity at times when the renewably systems fail to generate any.

This means if India does achieve their goals for renewable energy, battery storage systems will have to become more readily available and at a lower cost to take away any remaining dependence on fossil fuels the country may have.

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