Green Investments Could Resolve India’s Annual Coal Outages

blue solar panel board

India encountered an acute power crisis in 2022, induced by the country’s coal scarcity. The country fell short of over 100 MU of energy, spread across 8 days in April. 102 out of the 173 routinely-surveilled thermal power plants reported recklessly low inventory volume as of May 29. Climate-change driven scorching temperatures, rising demand for energy and skimpy investments in alternative energy intensified the crises, amplifying the country’s screams for renewable energy. The prevalent geopolitical situation in Europe aggravates the crisis, skyrocketing import costs. Two in every three homes said they’re facing power failures, according to data by LocalCircles. 

The Central Electricity Authority of India (CREA) warned of a second, more alarming power crisis in July-August. Notably, three-fourth of India’s annual energy supply is derived from thermal power plants. Coal-fired setups are responsible for dreadful climate change effects including severe heat waves that the country is increasingly braving. These heat waves lead to a surge in power demands, which further contributes to what has become an annual trend of power crises in India. In the midst of the jam, renewable energy (RE) could essentially knuckle down annual power outages caused by coal deficiency. Brownie points for clean and emission-less production. 

India’s installed renewable energy capacity has ballooned by 286 percent over the last 7.5 years and currently stands at 151.4 GW. Renewable energy counts for 39 percent of the country’s total installed capacity. An addition of 28.5 GW is expected to the installed renewable energy capacity by FY23, according to India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF). The Indian market, according to a recent report, is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of over 10 percent between 2022-2027. Nearly 50 percent of the country’s energy demands shall be met by clean energy by 2030, said RK Singh, Minister of Power and New & Renewable Energy. 

Cleantech companies have been in a groove, raking in funds from marquee investors. Startups working at the intersection of technology and clean energy hold the prospects to resolve India’s climate change and power generation quandaries. Recently, Mumbai-based B2B cleantech firm, EdgeGrid raised USD 6 Mn from Lightrock India and others. EdgeGrid allows last-stage customers to efficiently utilise and locally generate energy. Several Indian cleantech startups including Avaada Energy and ReNew Power have emerged as ace firms providing revolutionary solutions. Between 2019-2020, ReNew Power generated energy accounting for 1 percent of India’s total power requirement. The startup has set up projects worth more than 10 GW. ReNew became the first Indian RE firm to list on Nasdaq. Avaada Energy, on the other hand, provides solar powered solutions and has set up projects of over 5 GW in African and Asian nations. Mumbai-based cleantech startup, Oorjan, raised USD 450,000 from Globevestor among others. The startup has over 1,000 customers. 

The nation’s big-leaguers have also been splashing out on the renewable energy sector. While Ambani announced an investment of USD 10 Bn, the Adani group bet even bigger with investment plans of USD 20 Bn. The latter recently signed an MoU with the Andhra Pradesh government to erect a 3,700 MW hydro storage project and a 10,000 MW solar energy project worth INR 60,000 Cr. Ambani led Reliance Industries, on the other hand, announced the construction of the Dhirubhai Ambani Green Energy Giga Complex in Gujarat. RIL (Reliance Industries Limited) plans to set up four giga factories dedicated to solar photovoltaic modules, advanced energy storage, an electrolyser factory for green hydrogen, and a fuel cell factory for converting hydrogen into motive and stationary power. “India’s technology and digital exports have risen to $150 billion from less than $10 billion 20 years ago. By 2030, I believe they will exceed half a trillion dollars. Similarly, India’s Clean and Green Energy exports in the next 20 years at the end of 20 years also has the potential of half a trillion dollars of export,” said Mukesh Ambani at an event. 

Prior large scale investments in renewable energy could have averted the annual coal and power shortage in the country. India looks to install 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030. Sluggish investments in RE have blurred India’s target of 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022 end. However the country stood 3rd in the renewable energy country attractive index of 2021 (Invest India) and has the potential to become a global superpower in terms of RE.

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