By the Numbers: India’s Progress on its Renewable Energy Target

By Aman Y. Thakker —

India One solar thermal power plant in Rajasthan, India. Source: Brahmakumaris Photo Gallery’s flickr photostream, used under a creative commons license.

In 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi set an ambitious goal for India to generate 175 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy by 2022.  According to latest data released by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, India has installed a total capacity of 74.79 GW of renewable power as of December 31, 2018. The Wadhwani Chair in U.S.-India Policy Studies analyzed the progress each Indian state had made on meeting this target, and the path ahead for India as it tries to meet these goals.

25.21 GW in Wind Power compared to 35.14 GW in Solar Power

A plurality of India’s installed renewable energy – over 35 GW – continues to be sourced from wind power. However, more than half of that installed capacity came before Prime Minister Modi announced the 175 GW target in 2015. At the time he announced the target, India had already installed 23.4 GW of wind power, giving it a significant leg up over solar power, which only boasted 3.7 GW of installed capacity in 2015.

India’s total installed renewable energy capacity as of December 31, 2018. Source: Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and Press Information Bureau, Government of India, compiled by CSIS Wadhwani Chair staff.

However, in the three years since, the total installed solar capacity between 2015-2018 has risen by 21.5 GW, compared to an additional 11.7 GW for wind in the same timeframe. This year, 2019, will see the pace pick up for solar, with estimates that nearly 14 GW of installed capacity will be added by the end of the year, compared to 2.3 GW for wind. At this rate, installed solar capacity in India is on track to overtake wind capacity by next year.

100 GW in 4 Years

While India has already installed around 75 GW of renewable energy capacity, it has a long way to go if it is to meet its target of 175 GW by 2022. The average rate at which India added renewable capacity from 2015-2016 to 2018-2019 is 9.20 GW per year. As it looks to add another 100 GW of energy by 2021-2022, such a feat would require a growth rate of over three times the current rate – nearly 33.40 GW per year.

Source: Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and Press Information Bureau, Government of India, compiled by CSIS Wadhwani Chair staff.

This challenge looks even more daunting as states announce that they are already experiencing a surplus of electricity. According to the Load Generation Balance Report 2018-19 report by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), a majority of states have surplus power based on peak demand, with the entirety of India’s Western states noting surplus power generation capacity. With reports of such surplus power, it remains to be seen how states can continue to add installed capacity.

For example, the state of Maharashtra has a target of 11.93 GW for installed solar capacity and 7.6 GW for installed wind capacity by 2022. It has currently installed 1.42 GW, or 11.9 percent of its solar target, and 4.65 GW, or 61.2 percent of its wind target. The CEA’s report notes that the state already has 1.3 percent surplus power supply based on peak demand with 23.30 GW. Adding another 12.86 GW (10.51 GW solar + 2.35 wind) will be tough at a time when the state is already reporting surplus power. With other power surplus states such as Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and others facing similarly high targets, adding more installed capacity will become increasingly difficult in coming years.

Mr. Aman Thakker is a Research Associate with the Wadhwani Chair in U.S.-India Policy Studies at CSIS. Follow him on twitter @AmanThakker.

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