By Vishal Gulati
Madrid, Dec 10 (IANS) India is going to add 67 gigawatts (GW) of solar energy capacity in next three years and the country is witnessing a sharp fall in its prices due to the enhanced production, Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar said on Tuesday.
“We are going to achieve 100 GW solar energy target in 2022 by adding 67 GW of power,” he said, while pointing out the sharp fall in the prices of solar energy due to enhancement of capacity.
“The prices of solar energy used to be Rs 20 per unit. Now, it is just 10 per cent of it,” Javadekar told IANS on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) negotiations which entered its second and penultimate week.
India and France jointly launched the International Solar Alliance (ISA) at the UN Climate Change Conference in 2015.
A brainchild of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the India-based Alliance — a coalition of 83 countries — aims at accelerating deployment of solar energy by reducing costs and making adequate funding available for its rapid deployment in solar-rich member-nations.
The Union Minister said five years ago India had just three GW of solar energy. “Today we have 33 GW of solar energy and it’s huge.”
Urging the world to do away with fossil fuels, Javadekar said: “We have today 37 per cent energy capacity through renewables. We want to increase it because our energy demand is rising so we have decided to have 40 per cent of energy capacity through renewal energy i.e. a mix of solar, wind and bio-waste.”
As the ISA has aggregated demand from various countries on solar water pumping systems and has floated a tender in which four parties have submitted their bids, he said, “I am sure that the best deal is on the cards and they will get it soon.
The solar water pumps will be rolled out in ISA member countries under the ‘Scaling of Solar Application for Agricultural Use’ programme.
ISA became a treaty-based inter-governmental international organisation on December 6, 2017, registered under Article 102 of the UN Charter.
Globally, India is the third-biggest solar installer after China and the US. India has reached 20 GW cumulative solar capacity, achieving the milestone four years ahead of the 2022 target originally set in the National Solar Mission.
India’s solar installations in 2017 at 9,629 MW was more than double the 4,313 MW installed in 2016.
While, India’s power demand will double over the next decade, its draft “Ten Year Electricity Plan” calls for this rising demand to be met with 275 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2027 — without requiring new coal plants beyond those already under construction.
The cumulative solar capacity of ISA member-countries is around 175 GW by end of 2017, around 44 per cent of the global capacity.
However, these are concentrated in China, India and Australia with 130 GW, 20 GW and 7 GW installations, respectively, or around 90 per cent of all ISA member-country solar capacity.
ISA aims to mobilise more than $1,000 billion in solar investments by 2030 to minimise fossil fuel dependence that help keep global temperatures from rising above two degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
Tim Buckley, Director Energy Finance Studies with the US-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), said India is entering the centre stage of the world in terms of the critical global issues relating to energy-climate-decarbonisation policies.
“With Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s clearly articulated and highly ambitious vision of 275 GW of renewables by 2027, India has emerged as a world leader in the renewable energy sector,” Buckley told IANS.
According to him, India requires $500-700 billion in renewable energy and supporting grid investment over the coming decade in order to meet its renewable energy targets.
In a note titled ‘International Capital Awaits Robust Policy Environment in India’s Renewables Infrastructure Sector’, it reviewed India’s energy market and found some recent policy changes favourable for renewable energy investors.
But it also noted with caution some sovereign risk issues that need to be resolved quickly.
“India is set to reach 144 gigawatts of renewable energy by the end of financial year 2021-22. The country has a clear ambition to transition to a cheaper lower emission electricity system, and that ambition is attracting healthy global investment,” he said.
Sounding warning note, Buckley said global capital flows into India will accelerate as long as the Indian government provides a clear policy framework and puts in place measures to lower risks and protect investor confidence.
Solar and wind auction prices in India since June 2018 have come in below 3.29 Rs/kWh, less than the average FY 2018-19 price of coal-fired electricity (3.46 Rs/kWh, equal to US$0.045/kWh) from NTPC — the state-run utility that operates 53GW of coal-fired capacity.
IEEFA’s another report titled ‘Risks Growing for India’s Coal Sector’ says India should adopt a policy of no net new coal-fired power generation beyond what is already under construction.
Also, the coal plants under construction should be reviewed for possible cancellation.