Amid $30bn investment opportunities in renewable energy, don’t wish away coal: Economic Survey

Renewable Energy

NEW DELHI: Indian renewable energy space presents an investment opportunity of $30 billion every year for the next decade but the country cannot wish away coal-based plants, the economic survey said.

The survey estimated additional investment requirement in renewable plants for upto 2022 at about $80 billion at today’s prices and an investment of around $250 billion for the period 2023-2030.

“Thus, on an annualised basis, investment opportunity for over $30 billion per year is expected to come up for the next decade and beyond,” it said.

The share of renewables in total electricity generation of the country was around 10% in 2018-19 compared to around 6% in 2014-15. Globally India stands fourth in wind power, fifth in solar power and fifth in renewable power installed capacity.

The cumulative renewable power installed capacity has more than doubled to 78 GW in March 2019 from 35 GW in March 2014. In addition, around 27 GW renewable power capacity is under installation and over 38 GW under bidding to achieve an installed capacity of renewable based power of 175 GW by 2022.

The survey said while there has been tremendous increase in the renewable energy capacity, fossil fuels, especially coal, would continue to remain an important source of energy.

“Further, it may not be advisable to effect a sudden abandonment of coal based power plants without complete utilisation of their useful lifetimes as it would lead to stranding of assets that can have further adverse impact on the banking sector.

Further, considering the intermittency of renewable power supply unless sufficient technological breakthrough in energy storage happens in the near future, it is unlikely that thermal power can be easily replaced as the main source of energy for a growing economy such as India,” the survey said.

It added that there is a need for building capacity for cleaner and more efficient coal technologies, given the sustainable energy objectives of the country and the importance that coal-based power plants entail.

“A comprehensive energy policy should take into consideration the economies of both coal and renewables as they are interdependent. They are substitutes for each other as a source of energy but are complementary in keeping the flow to the grid stable as coal generation represents a stable source of power while renewable energy may be variable”.
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