India accelerated commissioning of renewables
In 2022, India commissioned 13,956 gigawatts (MW) of wind turbines and 1,847 MW of solar panels. Compared to 2021, the figures increased by 17.5% and 26.6% respectively. Last year, the capacity of all types of renewable energy sources (RES), with the exception of large hydroelectric power plants (HPPs), reached 120.9 GW. Of these, solar power plants (SPPs) accounted for 52%, and wind farms for 35% (the share of small hydropower plants and biomass installations is 4% and 9% respectively, according to JMK Research).

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Ground-based power plants connected to the common grid are the top contributors of the SPP capacity increase, answering for 11.9 GW out of almost 14 GW. Compared to the previous year, their commissioning increased by 47%. On the contrary, the commissioning of other types of solar power plants slowed down. The segment of house panels has shrunk to 1.9 GW, which is 42% lower than last year, and distributed generation, to 700 MW (minus 50%). Among the regions, the northwestern state of Rajasthan became leader in the commissioning of new solar power plants, which has reinforced its status of the industry growth driver. According to Global Energy Monitor, by January 2023, it accounted for 29% of the country’s solar generators (with a capacity of over 20 MW). Rajasthan’s neighbouring state, Gujarat, became leader in the introduction of wind farms. It ranks first in terms of its share in the national structure of wind power capacity (28% versus 14% off Tamil Nadu state in southern India).

Such quick introduction of wind and solar generators will allow India to reduce its carbon footprint. According to the BP World Energy Review, in 2021 the country was the world’s third biggest global greenhouse emitter (7.5%), surpassed only by China (31 .1%) and the USA (13.9%). At the same time, in terms of the share of coal in the generation structure, in 2021 India was even ahead of China (74% versus 61%). Despite the intention to bring the installed RES capacity to 500 GW, announced in 2021 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the UN Climate Conference, India is not going to abandon coal in the electricity industry. By July 2022, the country had 285 coal-fired thermal power plants with a total capacity of 233.1 GW, while 23 facilities with a capacity of 31.3 GW were under construction.

Coal-fired generation is still in demand because of its cost-effectiveness. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), in 2021 the cost of a coal-fired unit cost in India was just $60 per megawatt-hour (MWh), compared to $70 per MWh for nuclear power and $90 per MWh for gas.


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January 2023