Nagpur: With just about 7 and 11 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity added in the last two fiscals, the country has a long way to go to meet the Centre’s 2022 target of 225GW. For this, it must add nearly 40GW of clean energy every year.
Analysis of latest data available with the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) shows that 20.45% of the total installed capacity of the country is from renewable energy sources. Apart from solar and wind, these also include generation from small hydro projects, biomass, and urban and industrial waste.
Further break down of data brings to the fore that total energy generation from renewables was only 8.08% between July 2017 and June 2018.
The Union power minister RK Singh recently announced the country will achieve the new renewable energy target by March 2022.
Recent reports of ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) show that the cumulative installed capacity of renewable energy, including grid-connected and off-grid power (till July 2018), is 72.62GW.
For meeting its promised target, around 38GW of renewable installed capacity will have to be added annually for the next four years.
Data mentioned in the 39th report of the standing committee on energy for MNRE shows that in the 2015-16 fiscal, around 7.13GW of new renewable energy capacity was installed. In the next fiscal, it increased to 11.46GW.
According to latest CEA reports, about 12GW was added in the financial year 2017-18 and between April to July this year, another 1.6GW capacity was installed.
The 2022 target not only is too ambitious but it also seems “unattainable given the current pace of installation”. “The target looks very far. To meet it, we will have to install nearly 3.5GW of renewable energy every month for the next 44 months. It is a Herculean task,” says Sunil Dahiya, senior campaigner at Greenpeace India.
To make it happen, the government needs to start thinking on increasing the percentage share of actual electricity generation from renewables rather than just installed capacity-based targets. “Responding to the urgency to act on climate change and rising pollution, countries across the world have started committing to 100% renewable energy in the near future. To expand the renewable sector, the government should stop building more coal-fired power plants,” says Dahiya.
As reported by TOI on Wednesday, one-fourth of the country’s thermal power plants are running at a plant load factor (PLF) less than 50%.
The Centre not only needs to get aggressive in installation of renewables but also has to focus on promoting decentralized options. “Rooftop and farm-top solars should be encouraged through attractive schemes,” adds Dahiya.
However, the ministry’s latest report shows installed capacity of solar roof tops is hardly 1.7% of the total renewable capacity (till July 2018). Despite holding great potential, solar installations in the country are plunging (as per reports by a private consulting firm).
One of the major reasons is the safeguard duty imposed on panel imports. It discourages people to go in for installations as the cost goes up.
In states like Maharashtra, anti-solar proposals by distribution company are proving a deterrent. The state government had launched the solar rooftop policy in 2015 to promote green energy. It was getting good response from consumers. This unnerved the state-owned electricity distribution company MSEDCL which, in turn, proposed to levy a surcharge (wheeling charge) at the rate of Rs1.25 per unit. The discom has also proposed to go in for gross metering instead of net.
If the two proposals are accepted by the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC), solar rooftop will become unviable and consumers who have invested lakhs on solar panels will have to face losses.
The latest data with the Maharashtra State Load Dispatch Center reveals that of the state’s total energy requirement, not even 1% is met by solar energy. The combined contribution of wind and solar sources is 5.15%.
Of the country’s overall installed capacity, solar constitutes only 7%. For a country that has about 300 sunny days every year, solar energy ought to have bright days ahead.
THE HEAT IS ON
India’s target: Installing 225GW of renewable energy capacity by March 2022
To meet it: 40GW of renewable energy/year or 3.5GW every month for the next 44 months
Renewable energy installed in last few years: 2015-16: 7.13GW| 2016-17: 11.46GW| 2017-18: 12GW
Renewable installed capacity out of total: 20.45%
Total energy generation from renewables (July 2017-June 2018): 8.08%
Total installed capacity of solar in India: 7% of country’s total installed capacity
Installed capacity of solar roof tops: 1.7% of the total renewable capacity (till July 2018)