One of the significant highlights of the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow has been India’s visible commitment to reduce its carbon emissions. On November 1, PM Narendra Modi delivered India’s 5-point agenda or ‘Panchamrit’ to reiterate the country’s intentions to fight global warming and climate change in measurable terms. These commitments are bold but are opportune when devastating impacts of climate change are being felt globally.
By placing tremendous focus on clean sources of energy, India has laid out ambitious targets for itself and, in a way, catalysed the world to follow suit. To achieve 500 GW of non-fossil fuel installed power generation capacity by 2030 from the current installed renewable energy capacity of 150 GW, India has a long way to go.
The above promises must now be accompanied with a reforms agenda in the power sector with a special focus on renewables. However, there are certain impediments to overcome.
Firstly, setting up large-scale solar and wind energy projects will require the availability of massive land masses. Land requirement calculations for India’s latest non-fossil fuel energy commitment have not been made yet. However, as per a recent report titled ‘Renewable energy and land use in India by mid-century’, to achieve a net zero target by 2050, India would require 50,000-75,000 square kilometres of land for solar, whereas wind energy farms could occupy an additional 15,000-20,000 sq km.
Thus, there is a need for robust land acquisition and a change in land use policies by the government. In doing so, it is necessary to ensure that there is no unreasonable regional concentration of renewable energy sources.