- Wärtsilä and LUT University report sees India achieving net zero emissions status before 2050 with clean energy transition
- It would need to be powered 100% by renewable energy to the tune of 4,000 GW by 2050, led by solar PV representing 76% share
- Energy storage too would need to be pushed forward as will green hydrogen
- Government must set up ambitious clean energy targets, while ensuring companies meet increased climate targets set for them
- Among other regions, the report also covers Germany and Californian energy markets
India can very well achieve a net zero status before 2050, if only it develops a 100% renewable energy power system, increasing it from 25% today, according to a report by Finnish power systems manufacturer Wärtsilä Corporation and the Finnish Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology. This energy transition will be dominated by solar that should account for around 3,076 GW or 76% of the total installed capacity base in 2050 which the analysts expect to reach 4,000 GW, growing 10-fold from 2020.
This renewable capacity is a must if the country wants to meet 5,921 TWh of electricity demand, and some 1,023 GW of peak demand up to 2050. New solar installations, according to the report Front-Loading Net Zero, would need to be increased from 7 GW annually now to 69 GW by 2035, and 79 GW between 2035 and 2050.
Remaining 24% of the energy mix (out of 4,000 GW renewables capacity) will comprise wind, hydro power and gas.
Why more solar?
Why solar shines brighter than other technologies as the ideal candidate to act as renewable baseload for India’s clean, and affordable energy system is because of high solar irradiation in India and the falling costs of this technology.
To support this amount of renewables capacity, energy storage capacity too would need to be deployed for grid stability and continuous supply of power. For this, it would need to increase from almost zero now to 99 TWh by 2050. Storage output should cover 35% of India’s total demand by 2050, with 99% enabled by batteries.
This would not only cut the electricity cost by 48% in the country—from $88.0 per MWh in 2020 to $46.0 per MWh in 2050— but also provide excess power which can then be used to reduce its energy dependency.
Focus on Green Hydrogen
Focus on green hydrogen is a must since the analysts calculate the country needing 142 TWh or 3.6 million tons of this gas, hence the government should look at investing INR 446 billion ($6 billion) in gas storage and setting up around 1,355 GW of electrolyzer capacity in the country. India currently accounts for 5.8% of global hydrogen demand, consuming around 6.7 million tons. If it is to decarbonize entire energy sector from power and heat to transport, it would require meeting 89.2 million ton demand by 2050.
“Our modelling shows a path to a clean power system that will catalyze India’s transformation into a global clean energy powerhouse; lifting millions from poverty, creating new jobs, insulating the system from energy shocks and simultaneously playing a vital role in limiting global temperature rises to below 1.5°C,” said Market Development Manager of India, Wärtsilä Energy, Sandeep Sarin.
The report recommends steps India needs to take to ensure this decarbonization of its power system, including setting ambitious clean energy targets over a longer time. The country must also ensure increased regulatory pressure on companies to go green, while also launching an incentive program for electrolyzer production thus creating new demand centers to cost-effectively offtake and transport green hydrogen.
Report writers also want the government to introduce market mechanisms to attract investments in flexible generation technologies to strengthen supply-side flexibility.
Wärtsilä explains that the Front-Loading Net Zero report models Germany, India and California demonstrating cost-optimal path towards 100% renewable energy power systems in each region. The 3 regions are its focus since these markets have vastly different socio-economic dynamics, energy systems and challenges.
Complete report can be freely viewed on and downloaded from Wärtsilä’s website.