[Ferro-Alloys.com] Growth in India's renewable energy capacity is on course to easily outpace the expansion of its coal-power fleet in the current decade, given the country's broader plan to cut its dependence on the thermal fuel.
Coal- and lignite-based generation capacity is expected to account for about 33pc of the country's installed electricity generation capacity by March 2030, down from about 55pc now, according to a report by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), a part of India's power ministry.
The calculations are based on expectations that coal- and lignite-based power plants will have combined generation capacity of 266.9GW by 2030, out of India's total capacity from all sources of 817.25GW. Combined coal and lignite-based capacity is currently 205GW, over half of India's total generation capacity of 370.5GW.
The projections, which CEA terms as an assessment rather than target setting, come as Delhi is putting more emphasis on expanding its renewable energy portfolio that is made up largely of solar, wind, small hydro, biomass and waste-to-energy resources.
CEA expects the share of renewable energy in India's overall generation capacity to rise to 34pc in the next 10 years from 23.6pc now. India is already working to expand its total renewable energy capacity to 175GW by 2022 and 435GW by 2030, from around 87GW now.
The bulk of the new capacity is planned to come from solar power plants, encouraged by the government's aim to raise solar energy capacity to 100GW in the next two years and about 280GW by 2030, from around 35GW now. Wind energy capacity is projected to grow to 140GW by 2030, from about 38GW at present.
"India is working towards a low-carbon emissions path while meeting its developmental goals," the CEA said, adding that the plan is also in line with the country's international commitments to cut emissions. The focus on renewable energy follows a call by policy makers to reduce reliance on coal.
Several state-controlled as well as private-sector companies have already lined up big renewable energy plans. Private-sector Adani recently acquired the rights to build 8GW of solar power projects and 2GW of solar cell and module manufacturing capacity, at an estimated investment of 450bn rupees ($6bn).
India also envisages growth in other cleaner sources. Nuclear-power capacity is expected to nearly triple to 18.9GW, while hydropower capacity is likely to rise by about 33pc to 61GW in around a decade from now.
The latest estimates come even as India takes further steps to boosting local coal output by opening commercial coal mining to the private sector. The government has sought bids from domestic and global companies as it auctions coal blocks.
About 75pc of India's actual power generation is currently based on coal and lignite, possibly because it has been a steady, cheap and abundant source of electricity and is not as intermittent as renewable sources such as solar and wind. Coal and lignite's share in overall generation is expected to fall to 54pc by 2030, although it will still be dominant compared with power production from other sources.
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