India has huge capacity to develop renewable energy infrastructure. However, wind and solar resources are spatially heterogeneous across India, finds a study conducted by researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory—a member of the national laboratory system supported by the US Department of Energy.
India has set a target of developing 175GW of renewable energy by 2022 and also 40 per cent of total power generation from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030. For this to happen, the country needs to overcome economic and siting challenges, along with power system challenges.
What’s the objective of the study?
The study, conducted by the International Energy Studies Group from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, used Multi-criteria Analysis for Planning Renewable Energy (MapRE) methodological framework. The broader objective was to “spatially identify the amount and quality of wind and utility-scale solar (a solar facility that generates power and feeds the grid supplying a utility with energy) resource potential in India and the possible siting-related constraints and opportunities for development of renewable resources”.
The study, titled ‘India Renewable Energy Zones’, identifies “cost-effective, equitable, and environmentally sustainable wind, solar PV and concentrated solar power (CSP) zones across India”.
Factors considered for selection of sites that can be developed as renewable energy zones
Cost of electricity
Distance to nearest substation
Road connectivity and presence of water body
Type of land cover
Findings of the study
Wind resources are concentrated mainly in the western states (Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan) and southern states (Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Telangana)
Solar PV resources are distributed across several states, but Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh have the most resource potential
Solar CSP resources are the most limited among the three technologies. CSP potential is highest in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
Half of all wind zones (47 per cent) and two-thirds of all solar PV zones (66 per cent) are more than 25 km away from existing substations with transmission voltage of 220 kV and above. This is a potential constraint when it comes to accessing high voltage transmission infrastructure.
About 84 per cent of all wind zones are on agricultural land. It provides opportunities for multiple uses of land, but may also impose constraints on land availability.
Only 29 per cent of suitable solar PV sites and 15 per cent of Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) sites are within 10 km of a surface water body, suggesting water availability as a significant siting constraint for solar plants.
Availability of groundwater resources was not analysed as part of this study.
Scope for developing co-location for wind and solar generation
The research also points out that about a quarter (28 per cent) of all solar PV zones overlap with wind zones, which means it is an opportunity for developing co-location for both. It will also be economical and easy to develop transmission extensions which can be used for both.