India's PV power could equal coal-fired power by 2040

»Solar power is set for explosive growth in India, matching coal’s share in the Indian power generation mix within two decades« - or even sooner, says the International Energy Agency (IEA) in its recently released »India Energy Outlook 2021«, a special report in the IEA’s World Energy Outlook series. The analysis examines the opportunities and challenges »faced by the planet’s third-largest energy consuming country as it seeks to recover from the Covid-19 crisis.«
Solar power currently accounts for less than 4 percent of India’s electricity generation, and coal close to 70 percent. Under a »Stated Policies Scenario« (STEPS), the country could reach »a dramatic turnaround« by 2040, driven by governments ambitions to increase green energy use, notably the target to reach 450 GW of renewable capacity by 2030, and the extraordinary cost-competitiveness of solar, »which out-competes existing coal-fired power by 2030 even when paired with battery storage.« According to the IEA, the rise of utility-scale renewable projects is underpinned by some innovative regulatory approaches that encourage pairing solar with other generation technologies, and with storage, to offer round-the-clock supply.
India’s electricity demand is set to increase much more rapidly than its overall energy demand, forecasts the report. But a defining feature of the outlook is a sharp rise in variability – both in electricity output, from solar PV and wind, and in daily consumption. On the supply side, output from renewables in some Indian states is set to exceed demand on a regular basis (typically around the middle of the day) before 2030.
Coal’s hold over India’s power sector is loosening, with industry accounting for most of the increase in coal demand to 2040. Once the coal-fired power plants currently under construction are completed over the next few years, there is no net growth at all in India’s coal fleet. The share of coal in the overall energy mix (power and heat) steadily declines from 44 percent in 2019 to 34 percent in 2040, and more rapidly in other scenarios. The »Sustainable Development Scenario« explores how India could mobilize an additional surge in clean energy investment to produce an early peak and rapid subsequent decline in emissions, consistent with a longer-term drive to net zero, while accelerating progress towards a range of other sustainable development goals.
The report »India Energy Outlook 2021« is available free of charge at »« (search for »India«).

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