India – The Next Renewable SuperPower
As of 2014, 144 countries have declared renewable energy support policies and targets. Of these, 95 are developing nations. One emerging economy that is leading the path to renewable energy adoption is India. India’s RE experience offers valuable insights for other emerging Asian economies struggling to strike a balance between growth and clean power.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, an ardent supporter of green energy systems, has set the ambitious goal of enabling at least one light bulb in every Indian home by 2019. That is a huge task given that currently 400 million people in India (more than the combined population of the U.S. and Canada) live without electricity.
India is the world’s sixth largest renewable energy market. As of March 2014, India had 29.5 GW of renewable energy (RE) capacity, with RE accounting for 12 percent of total electricity generation. Power and coal minister Piyush Goyal has stated that India has the potential to add 10GW of solar power capacity and 6-8 GW of wind capacity every year.
Although coal based power continues to dominate electricity generation (coal currently makes up 60 percent of total capacity), the government aims to reduce carbon emissions by 20-25 percent by 2020 compared to 2005 levels, and to increase renewable energy consumption to 35 percent by 2050.
India’s Renewable Energy Initiatives
Eliminate with blackouts and brownouts, and eliminate the dependence on diesel based generators, the government plans to invest $100bn (£62bn) in renewable energy over the next five years.
While coal-fired electricity generation in India is slated to grow rapidly over the next few years, the country has doubled tax on every metric ton of coal mined or imported to raise funding for clean energy projects and RE research and development.
The government has introduced incentives for closing inefficient coal plants older than 25 years.
Even coal companies have been roped in to contribute to RE. Coal India Limited (owned by the government and the world’s largest coal mining company) is partnering with India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy to develop 1,000 MW of solar power plants at a cost of $1.2 billion.
Ongoing efforts for adoption of RE technologies include feed-in-tariffs (FIT) based on level of RE power generation by utilities, financial penalties for delays in RE projects, and state-level FIT’s to encourage local participation.