• After biofuels, solar energy will be the second largest source of renewable energy use in India by 2030, according to new IRENA ‘Renewable Energy Prospects for India’ report
  • More renewable energy deployment can save the economy 12 times more than its costs by 2030
  • With more renewable energy capacity coming up, solar and wind can become job creators with over a million jobs in solar sector alone by 2022
  • Lack of trained and skilled manpower in renewables space is something that needs urgent attention  

Renewable energy growth in India can ensure the country can meet a quarter of its total final energy demand with clean energy by 2030. Solar energy will be the second largest source of renewable energy use (16%), followed by wind (14%), and hydropower (7%) of the country’s final renewable energy use by 2030. Biofuels would account for 62%, which can be used for transport, electricity and  heat generation, according to ‘Renewable Energy Prospects for India’ – the latest report of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) under its REmap program.   

India has the potential to increase its share of renewable power generation to over one-third by 2030. Solar capacity would increase to 200 GW, with additional capacity in off-grid, while wind would reach 185 GW, according to the report.

Increasing renewable energy deployment will work in favor of India as it could save the economy 12 times more than its costs by 2030, create jobs, and lead to cleaner air and water, and contribute to improve health. The renewable energy technologies identified in the report would lower the demand for coal and oil products between 17 and 23% by 2030, compared to a business as usual scenario.By 2022, solar energy sector alone could have over a million jobs. Wind power may employ more than 180,000 by the same year.  

The report ‘Renewable Energy Prospects For India’ estimates India to install less renewable power-generation capacity than China, Germany or the US. Nevertheless, it creates an important opportunity for renewable energy deployment if supported by regulatory policies.

India’s gross power capacity is likely to grow from 284 GW in 2015 to around 670 GW by 2030. More than three quarters of this will be coal-based capacity under the reference case in this study. India’s target for renewable energy by 2022 is 175 GW, but thereafter there is no clear target in sight.

Even though India was the first nation to set up a ministry dedicated to new and renewable energy, the targets it has set for wind and solar haven’t yet achieved much success. Several reasons are responsible for this that continue to pose challenges. These include much needed impetus in investment in renewable energy capacity, absence of strong regulatory frameworks, transmission and distribution losses and the ability of the infrastructure to absorb huge amounts of renewable energy sources.

Job creation is the strongest macroeconomic benefit of renewables, but to be able to achieve this, the administration would first need to address the urgent need for training and skill development in the renewable energy sector, emphasizes IRENA.

The report also gives a set of recommendations to address these issues, like effective implementation of renewable purchase obligations (RPOs), establishment of a Green Bank, creation of an enabling business environment, smooth integration of renewable energy, among others.

The ‘Renewable Energy Prospects For India’ report is available on IRENA’s website for free download.