India’s renewable energy programme is proceeding at such a rapid pace that its contribution to total power generation will equal that of coal in 2026 and surpass it the following year, according to projections made in the second volume of the Economic Survey released on Friday.
At present, India’s installed power capacity is 327 GW of which thermal power from coal comprises 192.16 GW or 55% of the total, while renewable energy capacity is 57.26 MW or 18% of the total. India has set itself the goal of 175 GW of renewable power capacity by 2022 and 275 GW by 2027.
But coal capacity is expected to increase by only 50 GW by 2022 and thereafter remain almost constant, as a result of which by 2027, coal-based power capacity will 248.51GW, or a shade less than that of renewables.
However, that will depend on the ambitious yearly energy targets being persistently achieved.
Already in 2016-17, installed renewable capacity increased by 24.5%, while thermal went up by merely 5.3%.
The survey notes that the cost of renewable energy has fallen drastically in recent years putting economic cost of solar and wind power almost on par with that of thermal power.
It points out that the levelised cost of electricity from solar halved between 2010 and 2014 and has fallen further since to a record low of Rs 2.44 per kwH at a solar auction in Rajasthan in May. It notes that wind tariffs too have dropped, though not as dramatically. But the survey also provides a detailed analysis of the social costs of both coal–based energy and renewable energy.
In all, it estimates that currently the social cost of renewables is around Rs 11 per kwH, three times the social cost of coal. However, in coming years, the balance is expected to change considerably as the cost of stranded assets becomes less important.
The report also notes that India is well on its way to achieving the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) goals it had committed to at international climate conferences.