India’s green shift to renewables: How fast is it happening?
It has been conventional wisdom that India is powering ahead with its industrialization in the same manner as earlier industrializing powers, and most recently in the footsteps of China as a leading producer of black, coal-fired electric power. It has been widely assumed that India would be the next major producer and consumer of coal and of coal-fired power, taking over where China has left off. But just as China has surprised the world with the speed and scale of its shift from black to green power, so attention is now shifting to India as it shows every intention of following in China’s green footsteps. And like China, India has powerful reasons for doing so – from a means to curb the ever-worsening urban air pollution associated with burning fossil fuels, to the economic security that comes with having to import lower volumes of coal, gas and oil, and the enhancement of energy security that comes with becoming less reliant on geopolitical hotspots for fossil fuel supplies. And of course there is the issue of building the manufacturing and export industries of tomorrow, where clean energy and circular economy technologies promise to become central to future economic prosperity.
In October 2017 the International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris reviewed progress around the world in building renewable energy industries, finding China, India and the US to be the world’s foremost players. The IEA projects that solar power will be the world’s fastest growing renewable energy source over the next five years (until 2022), raising the global level of power sourced from renewables from 24% in 2017 to an anticipated 30% by 2022.
For all these reasons it makes sense to closely examine India’s green strategies, to assess the impact that they might be having. India is already celebrated for having adopted very ambitious clean energy targets by 2022, when it is anticipated that India will have installed 100 GW of solar power and 60 GW of wind power, totaling 175 GW of clean power to be installed within the next five years. How realistic are these ambitious targets, and is there any evidence that India is on track to achieve them? To what extent can India be viewed as following the clean energy strategies that have powered change in recent years in China and Germany?
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