How far away is India in meeting its renewable energy target?

As of March 2021, India’s installed renewable energy capacity is 93 GW. By December 2022, the country has targeted to have 175 GW of RE capacity installed. Will India be able to install 83 GW within the next 21 months is literally a million dollar question.

While the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Energy has asked the government to formulate strategies to speed up capacity installation, it is clear that the momentum of RE capacity addition has fallen way by the side. In addition to the pandemic blues that delayed project auctions, awards, and commissioning, economic pressures on RE projects were being felt for a while now. 

To start with, ban on imports of solar modules and other parts put paid to many RE project plans. As an emergency measure against the pandemic, a blanket extension of six months was granted to all projects that needed imports or were to be commissioned. 

Since the launch of the National Solar Mission plan in 2010, 39 GW of solar energy capacity has been installed, as against the target of 100 GW. Another 36 GW of solar energy projects are under implementation, the Standing Committee on Energy report said. The wind segment saw an addition of 37.7 GW in the last decade, as against the targeted capacity of 60 GW.

But it is rooftop solar that has seen the slowest growth, with capacity addition standing at a meagre 4.4 GW as of March 2021. Merely 430 MW of rooftop installations were executed in 2020, as against the year’s target of 3,000 MW. Lack of awareness has been cited as the main reason for the slow growth of the rooftop sub-sector. 

The parliamentary committee has recommended that the Union government should widely advertise the benefits of rooftop solar and the incentives it is offering for the same. While there should be a single-window system at the district-level to facilitate rooftop installations, a higher subsidy for customers in the lower income group would go a long way in increasing its adoption, it has said.

Achieving 175 GW by 2022 is only the first frontier. The tougher target is installing a renewable energy capacity of 450 GW by 2030. It sure looks an uphill climb right now. 

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