A recent report released by The Energy and Research Institute, TERI, puts India in a comfortable zone with a 10-year window between 2014-2024, in which no new investment is required in coal, gas or nuclear capacities
It a scenario witnessed never before in the history of Indian electricity sector, with the electricity supply potential being projected greater than the economic demand. So much so, the installed capacity and the capacity under construction would be able to meet demand till about 2026, keeping India power sufficient. This suggests that there would be no new coal-based capacity investment that would be approved till about for years prior to that.
A recent report released by The Energy and Research Institute, TERI, puts India in a comfortable zone with a 10-year window between 2014-2024, in which no new investment is required in coal, gas or nuclear capacities. If in this 10-year window, the price of solar and battery reaches the Rs.5/ unit mark, all new capacity additions would be in renewable.
However, the 3 big questions are raised. One, would we be able to create the appropriate infrastructure or the ability of the Indian grid, to absorb this large amount of renewable energy; second, a strong battery- based balancing power; third, cost competitive of renewable in the country. Addressing these issues is challenging, but the good news is, if placed well, all the projections are a positively reasonable probability.
Further, while the growth in electricity demand, policy, regulatory measures, and initiatives would lead to a "pull factor", the dovetailing of international technological cooperation and financial support so as to overcome the "humps of challenge" would enable its realisation. This could provide a paradigm shift to the future of Indian electricity sector wherein all the new generating capacity addition would come from the renewables.
The ministry has been reported saying it is undertaking several initiatives towards making solar energy price competitive to coal.
Dr Ajay Mathur, Director General, TERI, said "The target to achieve the UNFCCC commitments presents tremendous opportunity to put India at the forefront of economies transitioning towards low carbon growth. This includes improving electricity access, clean technology development, manufacturing, and job creation. Our report shows that the cost of renewable electricity and its storage is on a steady decline and could stabilise at around Rs 5 per KWh. The decarbonisation of power generation is also an opportunity to move other carbon based sectors like transport to electricity, thus multiplying the benefits of clean energy generation."
A lot of engineering interventions are necessary for achieving 175 GW of renewable power by 2022. BN Suresh, President, INAE, said "Indigenous manufacturing of renewable energy components such as solar PV cells and modules will benefit through job creation, reduce reliance on imported technology, and strengthen India's position as a manufacturing hub in line with 'Make In India' initiative. Achieving high capacity target of renewables in a short time scale requires innovation in technology and cost reduction of project execution, operations, and maintenance."
The report also calculates that the total electricity consumption in the country grew at a CAGR of more than 7 per cent between 2001 and 2015, reaching 814.3 BU (Billing Units) in 2014-15 from 322.5 BU in 2001-02. This 151 per cent growth in total consumption was a result of 177 per cent growth in residential consumption, 241 per cent rise in commercial consumption, 148 per cent growth in industrial consumption, and 112 per cent growth in agricultural consumption. This escalation in power consumption occurred in tandem with economic development as the GDP also grew at a CAGR of 7.3 per cent over this period.