India’s power grid has been more resilient over the past weeks than it was at the same time last year when a coal shortage led to widespread blackouts. Part of the reason for the enhanced resilience was the surging renewable capacity which has reduced the stress on coal-fired generators, which continue to provide around 70% of India’s electricity.
India is not ditching coal anytime soon—it will continue to rely on the dirtiest fossil fuel for decades, at least until 2040, Coal and Mines Minister Pralhad Joshi signaled earlier this month.
However, India continues to make progress in raising its renewable energy generation capacity, which has helped it avoid too much strain on the grid in October 2022 compared to October 2021.
India reiterated this month its target to have half of its electricity generated from renewable energy resources by 2030, while the country’s largest private companies are also betting on renewables with the goal of becoming global powerhouses in clean energy.
India’s solar and wind power generation capacity rose to 119 gigawatts (GW) last month, up from 103 GW as of October 2021, according to estimates by Reuters’ senior market analyst John Kemp based on data from Grid India.
Combined, solar, wind, and hydropower met 25.4% of India’s electricity demand last month, compared with 22.8% in October last year.
Earlier this year, the heat wave in April and May led to electricity shortages and power cuts for hours in some Indian states and large cities, hitting the industry and closing schools.
Still, after the monsoon season that ended in September, power supply proved more resilient than last year, while electricity demand stayed more or less the same as in October 2021.
In November this year, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the G20 summit in Bali that “India is committed to clean energy and environment. By 2030, half of our electricity will be generated from renewable sources.” “Time-bound and affordable finance and sustainable supply of technology to developing countries is essential for inclusive energy transition,” Modi added.
In the 2021/2022 financial year ended March 2022, investment in renewable energy in India hit a record $14.5 billion, up by 125% compared to FY2020-21 and 72% higher than the pre-Covid FY2019-20, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) said in a report earlier this year. In the 2021/2022 year, a total of 15.5 GW of renewable energy was installed in India, a rebound from the slump during 2020.
“The surge in renewables investment comes on the back of the revival of electricity demand from the COVID-19 lull and commitments by corporations and financial institutions to net-zero emissions and to exit fossil fuels,” said the report’s author Vibhuti Garg, Energy Economist and Lead India, IEEFA.
Over the past year, India’s oil-to-telecoms conglomerate Reliance Industries has said it will invest as much as $76 billion in green energy projects in India over the next 15 years, while the Adani Group of billionaire Gautam Adani plans to invest $70 billion by 2030 in its green energy operations to become the largest producer of renewable energy in the world.
This month, Reliance’s chairman Mukesh Ambani said that India would become a renewable energy powerhouse as clean energy and digitalization would drive growth.
India’s installed renewable energy capacity, including large hydro, rose from a few megawatts in 2010 to around 163 GW as of August 2022, IEEFA and Climate Energy Finance (CEF) said in an analysis last month.
IEEFA and CEF expect India’s renewable energy capacity to grow rapidly, with 35 GW - 40 GW of new capacity additions annually through to FY2029/30, reaching 405 GW.
“IEEFA and CEF believe that even though there is some renewed momentum building on expanding the use of domestic thermal energy, the long-term trajectory for renewable energy is still intact,” the authors of the analysis wrote.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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