India’s renewable energy generation capacity is now at a little over 57 GW. In nearly doubling the renewable energy portfolio in three years, the government has shown its commitment to low-carbon development. But much more needs to be done.
The target of 175 GW of new renewable energy capacity by 2022 still seems ambitious. But the direction of travel has been clearly set. India is focused on increasing the share of renewables in the energy basket. Record low tariffs, declining capital costs, swift and transparent auctions and allotment have made this possible. But challenges still persist. The cost of credit remains high, in spite of official attempts to lower the cost. Much more needs to be done to provide storage options and making the grid compatible with higher share of variable power sources like wind and solar.
The government is working on these issues as well, increasing investments in the green energy corridor, active engagement in the programme of Mission Innovation and the Clean Energy Ministerial.
Then there are policy niggles that can swamp renewable energy producers, such as PowerGrid allocating offtake commitment to those without any generation projects, leaving those with solar and wind projects under construction high and dry as far as offtake is concerned.
The government must invest more in research and development, publicly fund research institutions that can serve as incubators for cutting-edge technologies of the future. The government must leverage its participation to catalyse greater engagement by the private sector. The government needs to draw up incentives and disincentives to encourage cities, businesses and other entities to increase the use of renewable energy. Increasing capacity is the easier part of mainstreaming renewable energy.