India renewable energy scenario: an overview

By Editor


India is progressing with its renewable energy targets. Industry watchers say there is a new wave of hope flowing across the country thanks to the support from the new government and the rapid increase in the adoption of renewable energy across the globe.

Through National Solar Mission, India has made remarkable advancement in energy segment, experiencing faster additions to solar capacity. The National Solar Mission has set a target of 20 GW through immense solar power projects, with a minimum capacity of 500 MW.

The new government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken an aggressive stand on achieving energy independence through renewable energy sources, and as a result, India is emerging as a strong advocate of solar power.

In one of the latest initiatives, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has issued a proposal to establish 25 large-scale solar power projects in various parts of the country, of 500 MW- 1,000 MW capacities developed through five years.

India is yet to attract major foreign investments in the renewable energy sector. However, as renewable gets boost from the new government, global players are showing interest in a number of Indian projects.

Recently, GE made a $50-million investment in Greenko, a renewable energy developer in Satara district of Maharashtra. With this investment, the wind energy capacity of GE has increased from 65 MW to 600 MW in 2014.

Like GE and Greenko that are eyeing renewable energy opportunity across the country, there is a raft of companies such as Tatas, Aditya Birla, Adani, Reliance Industries (RIL) and Mahindra eager to expand their renewable energy pipeline.

Reliance Solar has been building clean energy products such as home lighting systems and solar lanterns in addition to products used in building renewable energy plants.

A transition from hydrocarbon presence which is coal, oil and natural gas into a fully renewable, sustainable future over the next many decades and solar is necessary, said, Mukesh Ambani, promoter of RIL.

Adani Group, based in Gujarat, plans to size over 20,000 MW capacity in renewable power by 2020. They launched their first solar project in 2012, at a time when renewable energy standards improved and are planning to play a major role in the country’s path to clean energy growth.

Start-up renewable energy firms such as Greenko, ReNew Power and Azure Power are joining these conglomerates, announcing their plans to expand across the country. Investors such as IFC, KKR and Berkeley Energy are willing to provide financing.

The demand for renewables is evident with the flood of orders companies like ABB, Bhel and Alstom are receiving. ABB hopes a rise in demand for power electronics for wind turbine manufacturers as well as plant engineering solutions and substations for wind farms.

Recently, the state-owned Bharat Heavy Electricals (BHEL) opened a Rs 3,000-crore solar fab unit in Maharashtra and commenced work on a 20-MW solar power plant in Odisha.

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Smaller solar parks with 100 MW capacities customized for small sized states are another proposal under consideration of the government.

India, like any other country, considers the economic aspects of solar power. Increasingly falling costs of clean energy production is one of the reasons why solar power become popular in India. Photovoltaic technology is getting cheaper making solar power more attractive.

For India, a major portion of the oil comes from Iran, but after the UN sanctions against Iran imports, oil has become very expensive. Solar power may be an alternative solution to ease the financial strain induced by such sanctions.

Renewable energy will mainly benefit smaller Indian states with constrained budget. Solar power is becoming more accessible, with minimized investment.

Madhya Pradesh of India currently boasts 202 megawatts of total solar capacity, much of which comes from Indian government supported projects and its primary renewable energy goals. The state plans to reach the 1,400 megawatt mark by the middle of 2015.

In another initiative, the Ministry has announced a plan to introduce some 7,500 megawatts of new solar energy capacity to Jammu and Kashmir.

The state of Jammu and Kashmir receives some of the highest levels of solar radiation all of India. The state is a popular target for solar power initiatives thanks to the infrastructural challenges associated with traditional power grids.

India has plans to generate no less than 3 percent of its total electrical power from solar energy by 2022. However, the government has concerns regarding the upfront costs associated with the adoption of solar power and these concerns have served to slow the progress the country has made toward its renewable energy goals.

Approximately, 3,800 megawatts of capacity is expected to be installed in India by 2015, of which 1,900 megawatts will come from wind energy, according to government sources.

Sabeena Wahid

[email protected]

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