The renewable energy sector in India has been growing steadfastly in the last few years, with the country now home to some of the largest solar and wind installations in the world. The sector received a major boost after 2015 following the government’s decision to create 175 gigawatt (GW) of renewable energy capacity in the country by 2022. The new target redefined the scale and scope of the sector, especially for wind and solar which comprise 60 GW and 100 GW (the original goal for solar was 20 GW), respectively, of the goal. Over the last few years, the government has launched a series of supportive policies and schemes to encourage the building up of renewable capacity in the country. The dramatic fall in the price of photovoltaic cells by more than 50% over the last 5 years in domestic markets has further been spurring the demand and investments in renewables sector. With fast expanding demand and a steep fall in prices, the market size of the renewables is further set to expand and deepen.
In 2014 the renewable energy sector began to take flight in India. Some of the key country goals included finding the right energy mix through policy ecosystem and by involving the private sector. Five years down the road, renewable capacity in India has reached 73 gigawatt (GW), accounting for over 20% of the country’s total. Solar has performed particularly well: in 2017-18 alone, around 10 GW of solar was installed equaling the entire installed base. The capacity growth was driven by a sharp fall in tariffs, with both solar and wind auctions attracting bids that were lower than the cost of power from coal-based plants. (https://shaktifoundation.in/report/the-state-of-renewable-energy-in-india-2019/)
While 2018 left us with a sense of success, a lot still needs to be done to maintain the momentum. Indeed, 2018 has seen a reversal of some of the positive trends. Installations dropped to ~6.6 GW in the months between January to September. Tariffs went up as the government introduced a safeguard duty on imported PV modules. Solar auctions were cancelled or retendered for a lower size due to lack of developer interest and discoms’ demand for lower tariffs. Some of this slowdown is a temporary phenomenon, since the longer term trends — such as declining PV module costs — remain in place. But there are also some policy and implementation hiccups that need to be addressed to ensure the sector continues to grow strongly.
Fact Sheet on renewable sources of energy in India
Table 1: Installed grid interactive renewable power capacity in India (excluding large hydro) as of June 30, 2019
Sources of renewables MW Percentage share
of total MW
Wind Power: 36,368 45.2
Solar Power: 29,549 36.7
Biomass Power: 9,806 12.2
Small Hydro Power: 4,604 5.7
Waste-to-Power: 138 0.2
Total 80,465 100
According to a 2018 Climatescope report on Emerging Markets Outlook, Energy Transition in World’s Fastest Growing Economies, India ranked second among the emerging economies to lead to transition to clean energy. Installed renewable power generation capacity has increased at a fast pace over the past few years, posting a CAGR of 19.78 per cent between FY14–18. (http://global-climatescope.org/assets/data/reports/climatescope-2018-report-en.pdf)
The focus of India’s government has now shifted to clean energy after it ratified the Paris Agreement. With the increased support of government and improved economics, the sector has become attractive for investors for large deployment of capital into this sector. As India looks to meet its energy demand on its own, expected to reach 15,820 TWh by 2040, renewable energy is set to play an important role.
The Government of India is committed to increased use of clean energy sources and is already undertaking various large-scale sustainable power projects and
promoting green energy heavily. In addition, renewable energy has the potential to create many employment opportunities at all levels, especially in rural areas.
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has set an ambitious target to set up renewable energy capacities to the tune of 175 GW by 2022 of which about 100 GW is planned for solar, 60 for wind and other for hydro, bio among other. As of June 2018, Government of India is aiming to achieve 225 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022, much ahead of its target of 175 GW as per the Paris Agreement. India’s renewable energy sector is expected to attract investments of up to US$ 80 billion in the next four years.
It is expected that by the year 2040, around 49% of the total electricity will be generated by renewable energy, as more efficient batteries will be used to store electricity which will further cut the solar energy cost by 66% as compared to the current cost.
It is estimated that the use of renewables in place of coal will save India Rs 54,000 crore (US$ 8.43 billion) annually.
Some initiatives by the Government of India to boost the Indian renewable energy sector are as follows:
- A new Hydropower policy for 2018-28 has been drafted for the growth of hydro projects in the country.
- The Government of India has announced plans to implement a US$238 million National Mission on advanced ultra-supercritical technologies for cleaner coal utilisation. (https://pib.gov.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=165512)
- The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has decided to provide custom and excise duty benefits to the solar rooftop sector, which in turn will lower the cost of setting up as well as generate power, thus boosting growth. (www.mnre.gov.in)
- The Indian Railways is taking increased efforts through sustained energy efficient measures and maximum use of clean fuel to cut down emission levels by 33% by 2030.
Status: Moving Ahead
India is a signatory to the Paris agreement and continues to stay the course with a slew of measures including a strong focus on renewable energy, investments in green technologies, gradually reducing dependence on fossil fuel and enabling policy frameworks to provide continuity through involvement of sub regional governments. One such measure that the Indian government in tandem with the private sector has taken up is to step up its efforts to expand the markets around renewables, scale production and deepen consumption, spur investments and deploy extensive financial capital in the area of clean energy and renewables. India has already set a target of 175 GW out of which 73 GW is already achieved with a clear focus on reducing dependence on fossil fuel. Given the size and scale of the tasks involved these measures will need a constant oversight by domestic actors on implementation of measures as set by India.
Keeping in view the urgency of the climate challenges, call to collective action can be requested to the Indian Prime Minister as per his details below:
Renewables are key to advancing green climate while keeping emissions within permissible limits, going forward. However, India’s march towards a clean and green environment can effectively be sustained by backing the country’s current performance levels with enforceable policies for country’s Paris Climate commitment of 1.5 degrees Celsius to stay course in run up to 2030.