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Home » Special Report » India leads RE sector with 72.31 GW solar capacity, unveils green initiatives

India leads RE sector with 72.31 GW solar capacity, unveils green initiatives

February 2, 2024 4:09 pm

India leads RE sector with 72.31 GW solar capacity, unveils green initiatives
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Government initiatives, such as the National Green Hydrogen Mission, Rooftop Solar Programme, and foreign investment-friendly policies, reflect India’s commitment to sustainable energy development.

India has emerged as a global leader in renewable energy, with a remarkable surge in solar capacity from 2.28 GW in 2014 to 72.31 GW in 2023. Government initiatives, such as the National Green Hydrogen Mission, Rooftop Solar Programme, and foreign investment-friendly policies, reflect India’s commitment to sustainable energy development. These efforts position the country as a hub for green energy production, utilisation, and export on the world stage. RK Singh, the Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy and Power has informed about the developments to the nation in the Lok Sabha.

Renewable energy advancements

The cumulative installed capacity of solar energy in India has surged from 2.28 GW as of March 31, 2014, to 72.31 GW by November 30, 2023. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India, notified the E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2022 on November 2, 2022. According to these rules, manufacturers of solar photo-voltaic modules must register on a portal, adhere to waste storage guidelines until 2034-2035, submit annual returns, and follow processing norms.

The rules also mandate recyclers to recover materials per guidelines from the Central Pollution Control Board. The Department of Industry at the state or union territory level is tasked with allocating industrial spaces for e-waste dismantling and recycling within existing and upcoming industrial areas.

At COP 26 in November 2021, India pledged to achieve net-zero emissions by 2070. The updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) aims for 50 percent non-fossil fuel-based electric power capacity by 2030. Measures by the government include launching the National Green Hydrogen Mission, implementing incentive schemes, setting up Ultra Mega Renewable Energy Parks, expanding transmission infrastructure, and waiving ISTS charges. The Power Ministry issued guidelines for renewable energy bids, standards for solar deployment, and rules for timely payments. Steps by the Ministry of Coal involve major entities like Coal India, NLC India, and Singareni Collieries transitioning to renewables. Jharkhand is actively implementing its Action Plan on Climate Change to address state-specific needs for climate mitigation and adaptation.

Green energy revolution

India consistently ranks among the top four countries in renewable energy capacity, with the government implementing various initiatives to foster growth. Notable measures include waiving Inter State Transmission System charges for solar and wind power projects, setting a trajectory for Renewable Purchase Obligation until 2030, and launching schemes like Solar Parks, PM-KUSUM, and the National Green Hydrogen Mission. The creation of Ultra Mega Renewable Energy Parks, expansion of transmission infrastructure, and the establishment of a Project Development Cell aim to facilitate renewable energy development.

The government has also issued guidelines for competitive bidding, ensured timely payments to generators, and introduced rules promoting green energy open access. Skill development programmes like Suryamitra, Jal-Urjamitra, Vayumitra, and Varunmitra focus on training manpower for solar, hydro, wind, and water pumping projects. National Renewable Energy Fellowships support education at various levels. These initiatives collectively position India as a hub for green energy production and exports.

Green hydrogen mission

The National Green Hydrogen Mission, launched by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, aims to position India as a global hub for green hydrogen production, usage, and export. Key initiatives include GAIL Limited’s blending of 2 percent hydrogen in CNG and 5 percent in PNG networks in Indore. NTPC Limited has initiated an 8 percent green hydrogen blend in Surat, and projects like hydrogen-based FCEV buses in Leh and Greater Noida have been undertaken.

Oil India Limited has developed a 60 kW hydrogen fuel cell bus, while Indian Oil focuses on demonstration pilot plants for green hydrogen production. Various entities plan to set up green hydrogen/ammonia production facilities. Although in its early stages, the mission anticipates reaching a 5 MMT annual production capacity by 2030, reducing fossil fuel imports by ₹1 lakh crore, attracting over ₹8 lakh crore in investments, and generating over 6 lakh jobs. The SIGHT scheme aims to facilitate this transition through the issuance of RfS for 450,000 tons of green hydrogen production facilities in India.

Hydropower capacity

The Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy and Power has outlined significant steps to achieve India’s ambitious target of 500 GW of installed electricity generation capacity from non-fossil sources by 2030. In addition, the government has taken specific measures to enhance hydropower capacity, including declaring large hydro projects as renewable, implementing Hydro Purchase Obligation, tariff rationalisation, and budgetary support. Guidelines and reduced timelines for approval of Pumped Storage Projects (PSPs) have been established, with 4 PSPs under construction and 43 under survey and investigation. These initiatives collectively contribute to India’s commitment to sustainable and renewable energy development.

Rooftop solar

The Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy and Power announced a remarkable Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of approximately 46 percent in rooftop solar installations in India. The Ministry initiated the Rooftop Solar Programme Phase-II in 2019, aiming for 40 GW of rooftop solar capacity, with special emphasis on residential sectors. Financial incentives, including Central Financial Assistance (CFA), were provided, with different rates for general and special category states. The programme’s financial outlay is ₹11,814 crore, extended until March 2026.

Seasonal variations in renewable energy production are addressed by promoting hybrid combinations of solar, wind, and hydro sources. The cumulative installed rooftop solar capacity surged from 1.8 GW in March 2019 to 10.4 GW by November 2023. The government’s initiatives include a National Portal, online DISCOM portals, net-metering regulations, concessional loans, and awareness campaigns. The affordability of solar PV cells and modules further supports the flourishing solar power installations.

Foreign direct investment

The country’s renewable energy sector has witnessed a significant boost, attracting $6.1 billion in FDI equity investment from April 2020 to September 2023. The Union Minister for Power and New and Renewable Energy highlighted the government’s proactive measures to facilitate foreign investments in this sector. The FDI policy permits up to 100 percent investment through the automatic route.

Initiatives include the establishment of a Project Development Cell, and declaration of Renewable Purchase Obligation trajectory until 2029-30. Additionally, the Green Energy Corridor Scheme enhances transmission infrastructure. Various regulations, such as Green Energy Open Access Rules 2022 and Green Term Ahead Market, further encourage investment. With a total FDI equity investment of $6.1 billion, India is actively working towards becoming a global hub for green energy production, utilisation, and export.

To conclude, the country is heading at a faster pace towards achieving its renewable goals and all the stakeholders including the government and private entities are committed to the task.

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