Setting mid-range goals – one example

An Indian government’s think tank and the agency responsible for long-term planning has set a milestone of 100 gigawatts by 2020 for the country’s ambitious renewable energy targets.  According to a document released by the agency, the think tank has stated that the country must achieve at least 100 gigawatts of installed renewable energy capacity by March 2020 in order to achieve the 175 gigawatts target by March 2022.

At the end of July 2017 India had an installed renewable energy capacity of just over 58 gigawatts.  The three-year action plan also called upon the Solar Energy Corporation of India to develop storage solutions. This will help the round-the-clock supply of solar power which is now cheaper than thermal power. Additionally, storage would also help solve the issue of grid integration that renewable energy projects face. Several large-scale solar and wind energy projects are currently forced to reduce generation and shutdown completely due to lack of transmission capacity. Several utilities follow this practice in spite of a direction by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy that renewable energy projects have a ‘must run‘ status and should not be shutdown.

The think tank has also advised the government to fix the ailing Renewable Purchase Obligation program. While the central government has set a target of having 15% share of renewable energy in India’s power consumption by March 2022, it is not being adhered to by all states, thus creating another challenge for renewable energy project developers. Market mechanisms that enable states with surplus renewable energy to sell to states in deficit has also been pushed by NITI Aayog. However, such a program already exists — the Renewable Energy Certificate scheme. This program, too, is in shambles with low participation from power utilities.

The agenda document also stresses the need for nation-wide implementation of net-metering regulations. This will help boost the capacity addition of rooftop solar power systems. India hopes to have an installed rooftop solar power capacity of 40 gigawatts by March 2022, this goal, however, seems increasingly impossible to achieve. A parliamentary panel, too, had recently questioned the pace of progress and feasibility of this target.

Apart from these proposals, the think tank also calls upon the government to focus on renewable energy technologies other than wind and solar as well, specifically small hydro — projects with less than 25 megawatts of installed capacity. Introduction of competitive auctions, on the line of solar and wind energy projects, has been proposed.