Doubling India’s Wind and Solar capacities by 2020: India at the Climate Summit 

25 September 2014

People's Climate March, New Delhi. Thousands take to the street to tell world leaders to take immediate action on climate change before the climate summit hosted by UN secretary general, Ban Ki Moon (c) Sudhanshu Malhotra

 

Following the massive turnout in over 200 events at the people’s climate march, all eyes turn to the climate summit hosted by Ban Ki Moon in New York. While many nations released their statements, India focussed on growth of solar and wind power with a timeline.

India has promised to double its wind and solar capacity by 2020 as part of its efforts to reduce emissions intensity of GDP by 20-25 % by 2020, at the recently held climate summit hosted by the UN general secretary, Ban Ki Moon.

What does this translate into for the hugely promising renewable energy sector in India?

As of 31 March 2014 the installed capacity of wind power in India was over 21,000 MW. Doubling this means around 40,000 MW by 2020, according to industry sources, this can be a lot more. The government has pegged the potential of wind at 45,000 MW for 50m hub heights (of wind turbines) which is drastically low, with turbines these days ranging over 200m in height the potential of wind can be at least 5 times this. And this is just on shore, the country has huge potential in terms of off shore with a coast line of 7000 km. The national government still has to come up with a national policy for wind and the financial incentive mechanism in the form of Generation Based Incentives (GBI’s) needs a long term framework. The sector has recently seen a sluggish period with no clear policy direction and lack of clear financial incentive mechanism.

In the case of solar, there is lot of emphasis on the national solar mission which has a target of 20,000 MW by 2022 and we have around 2750 MW installed right now. The pace has been slow in relation to the target, doubling this would mean 40 GW by 20202 and a long way to go! The present National Solar Mission (NSM) framework is heavily loaded towards large scale grid connected solar with just 10% of the target for off-grid. If doubling the target and achieving it has to be realised in real terms there needs to be a lot more emphasis on decentralised solar power generation and application oriented solar power. Rooftop solar in urban setting and micro-grids based on solar for energy access in the rural areas can bring about a huge difference and can help in meeting this target. Application oriented solutions such as solar water pumping and solar powered telecom towers can not only help in reducing emissions but also bring in economic benefits by reducing oil imports.

Both the wind and solar sectors in India need a wide range of policy interventions, financial incentives, progressive schemes, right guidelines and strong political will to grow at a rapid pace. So if the government of India is serious on its promises to the global community, there needs to be progressive policies in place with clear time bound targets to be achieved.

India experiences over 300 days of sunshine, and solar energy has been the key focus in context to clean, renewable and sustainable power.

Know more about decentralised energy cluster examples in renewable energy at http://dharnailive.org

Manish Ram is a senior renewable energy campaigner at Greenpeace India