India likely to miss 2022 renewable energy target by a long way

In April 2015, the Narendra Modi government proposed a plan to boost India’s renewable power capacity to 175 gigawatts (GW) by 2022. That would be more than a four-fold increase from the 40 GW or so that India had at the time. But with just a year left, India looks set to miss the goal: just about 53% of the target has been met, and states that were to be key contributors are lagging.

When it was announced, the plan seemed to be in step with changing dynamics of the energy industry globally. Yet, India’s capacity addition since then has averaged just about 12 GW per year, far short of the approximate 20 GW that was targeted. Last year, India added just about 7 GW amid the pandemic.

Solar power was envisaged as the key driver of the renewable energy basket. It was assigned 100 GW of the 175 GW capacity target, against a mere 3 GW at the time. India’s solar capacity has climbed to about 48 GW as of January 2021—healthy growth, but slower than desired.

The plan also envisaged states driving new capacity addition. But only a handful of them are on course to meet their targets as the solar power sector continues to be roiled by falling tariffs, legal uncertainties, and, most recently, a business landscape hit by the pandemic.

Amid the capacity addition, India’s renewable energy portfolio has been evolving. Wind and solar together account for about 80% of the power generated through renewable sources. But the share of wind energy has reduced to 44% from 52% in 2017-18, while that of solar has increased from 25% to 39%.

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