India witnessed the highest growth in renewable energy (RE) capacity addition among all global economies in the last 7.5 years, with RE capacity growing by 2.9 times, while solar energy surged by more than 18 times, the Survey said.
Renewable energy in India:
Indian renewable energy sector is the fourth most attractive renewable energy market in the world.
India was ranked fourth in wind power, fifth in solar power and fourth in renewable power installed capacity, as of 2020.
At present, thermal sources of energy make the largest – 61.42 per cent — share of total installed capacity in utilities followed by RE resources at 24.7 per cent and hydro by 12.09 per cent.
Renewable energy (excluding large hydro) constitutes around 10.7 per cent of the electrical energy generation for 2020-21.
As of October 2021, India’s total RE installed capacity (excluding hydro power above 25 MW) has reached over 103.05 GW.
During the last 7.5 years, if large hydro is included, the share of RE in electric installed capacity is estimated to be about 38.27 per cent (as of October 2021) and its share in electric energy generation is estimated to be about 26.96 per cent (for the month of August 2021).
The difference in the share of renewable energy in installed capacity and electricity generation is because of the variability in the sunshine hours or extent of wind which in turn will determine the utilisation of the installed capacity.
The renewable-energy sector is the part of the energy industry focusing on new and appropriate renewable energy technologies.
Renewable resources include biomass energy (such as ethanol), hydropower, geothermal power, wind energy, and solar energy.
India has an estimated renewable energy potential of about 1100 GW from sources like Wind – 302 GW, Bio-energy – 25 GW, Small Hydro – 21 GW and Solar power – 750 GW.
Challenges faced by Renewable Energy Sector in India:
The most important challenge for further scaling up renewables in India is the poor financial condition of power distribution companies (discoms), most of which are owned by state governments. Almost all renewable energy is purchased by such discoms, resulting in very long and unsustainable payment cycles. For example, in December 2020, delayed payments to power generators from discoms totaled Rs 110,000 crore (this pertains to all power generated, not just RE power). Most RE projects report delays ranging from 6-18 months.
Another challenge is that as the percentage of RE power increases, the variability in its generation due to weather conditions makes operating the transmission grid a technically demanding task. Until recently, RE power capacity was small, but now RE projects are producing so much power that they are sometimes required to reduce or switch off generation to ensure that the grid is operating smoothly. Only recently have efforts at forecasting and scheduling of wind and solar power been ramped up. This enables projecting generation of RE power for the next 24 hours, and therefore better planning of grid operations.
The weak transmission grid in the country has also been a challenge, especially in the case of RE projects, which are often set up in remote areas, and away from large cities and consumption centres. For example, ambitious plans to build large solar projects in Leh were recently cancelled citing weak transmission infrastructure.
Availability of Power: One of the biggest concerns in the field of renewable energy is power generation depending on natural resources that are uncontrollable by humans. For example, solar powered electricity is generated only when sunshine is available and turns off at night; wind energy also depends on the availability of wind, so if the wind speed is very low, the turbine will not turn, and this result in zero power flow to the grid. On the other hand, too much wind can damage the generator and therefore a delicate balance needs to be maintained in order to keep a consistent generation of energy.
Power Quality Issues: Consistently high power quality is needed to ensure stability and high efficiency of the network. The quality of the power supply allows the system to work well with high reliability and lower costs. On the other hand, poor power quality can have major adverse effects on the power grid as well as industrial processes. It can lead to high costs and equipment failure. Power quality problems include frequency disorder, voltage/current harmonics, low power factor, voltage variation and transmission lines transits.
Cost Issue: The high initial cost of installation is one of the major hurdles in the development of renewable energy. Although the development of a coal plant requires about $6 per megawatt, it is known that wind and solar power plants also required high investment. In addition to this, storage systems of the generated energy is expensive and represents a real challenge in terms of megawatt production.
Highly variable across states: The penetration of renewable energy in India is highly variable across states. The share of solar and wind in India’s 10 renewable-rich states — Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Punjab and Kerala — is significantly higher than the national average of 8.2 per cent.
Solar and wind account for around 29 per cent of annual electricity generation in Karnataka. It is 20 per cent in Rajasthan; 18 per cent in Tamil Nadu; and 14 per cent in Gujarat in financial year 2020-21.
The renewable energy sector can continue to grow significantly and play a key role in India's and the world's ambition in tackling climate change. However, several interventions are needed to continue this impressive growth: Distribution Company reforms, a framework to adopt new developments like battery storage solutions and off-shore wind turbines, and technology solutions to integrate an increasing share of renewables into the grid.
There is a need to addresses the demand-side flexibility, power plant flexibility, storage (pumped-storage hydro and batteries) and grid flexibility, as well as policy, market and regulatory solutions for the short to long term.
Green Energy Corridor (GEC) projects: This is aimed at synchronising electricity produced from renewable sources, such as solar and wind, with conventional power stations in the grid. “The first component of the scheme, Inter-state GEC with target capacity of 3200 circuit kilometer (ckm) transmission lines and 17,000 MVA capacity sub-stations, was completed in March 2020. The second component - Intra-state GEC with a target capacity of 9700 ckm transmission lines and 22,600 MVA capacity sub-stations is expected to be completed by June 2022.
Under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM) scheme to promote RE in the farm sector, over 77,000 stand-alone solar pumps, 25.25 megawatt (MW) capacity solar power plants and over 1,026 pumps were solarised as of December, 2021.
Under the development of solar parks and ultra-mega solar power projects programme, with a target capacity of 40 GW by March 2024, 50 solar parks have been sanctioned with a combined capacity of 33.82 GW in 14 states. Solar power projects of an aggregate capacity of around 9.2 GW have already been commissioned in these parks.
A scheme for setting up 12 GW grid-connected solar PV power projects by government entities (including Central Public Sector Undertakings) is under implementation. Viability Gap Funding support is provided under this scheme. Under this scheme, the government has so far sanctioned around 8.2 GW of projects.
National Wind-Solar Hybrid Policy, 2018 is to provide a framework for promotion of large grid connected wind-solar PV hybrid systems for optimal and efficient utilization of wind and solar resources, transmission infrastructure and land.
Besides, the government has notified the offshore Wind Energy Policy to harness the potential of offshore wind energy along India’s coastline. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is developing a strategy and roadmap for installation of offshore wind projects off the coast of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.
In March 2019, The Union Cabinet approved a new hydroelectric policy aimed at boosting the sector, including according large hydro projects the status of renewable energy projects
Q. At the COP26 summit in Glasgow in November, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged to cut India's total estimated carbon emissions by 1 billion tonnes by 2030 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2070. To meet India's commitment at COP26, discuss renewable energy potential and challenges. Explain with example.