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 Climate Change

Energy
Published on: Sept. 8, 2021, 2:18 p.m.
Green energy and red earth
  • Solar projects will occupy in the range of 50,000-75,000 sq km of land

By Business India Editorial

India will be needing a large quantity of land in the next few decades for expanding its renewable energy capacity through solar and wind energy but it has to be judicious in using up the landmass, said a recent report.

According to the report by Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), 2.5 per cent of the country’s total landmass would be needed for solar projects. 

Though India is yet to decide on time by which it would commit to the net-zero target of emission, the report examined how much land could be needed for the country if it were to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

According to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global carbon emissions should decline by about 45 per cent by 2030 to restrict the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. If the countries indeed cut emissions, net-zero is likely to be achieved around 2050.

Solar projects will occupy in the range of 50,000-75,000 sq km of land while wind could use 1,500-2,000 sq km.

“This is a precautionary approach for the purposes of planning and putting in place smart land-use policies today for future renewable infrastructure,” said Dr Charles Worringham, researcher who did the report. He said that the higher end of the land-use range is deliberately generous to allow plenty of leeway for planning.

Comparing the effects of large-scale renewable expansion to those of meeting electricity requirements from additional coal-fired power, Worringham noted that the locations for renewable energy generation can be chosen using India's preferred social and environmental criteria and can be widely distributed across the country.

Compared to coal energy projects, renewable energy does not permanently alter land and natural resources in the same way as coal, he added.

The report made recommendations to minimise the total land-use requirements through offshore wind, distributed rooftop solar, and solar on artificial water bodies and optimising the identification and assessment of land.

The energy transition will also require important choices about where the infrastructure should be located. But careful planning and solutions, distributed energy systems and offshore wind can also reduce the potential for renewable generation to conflict with social and environmental values whilst diversifying and strengthening the country’s national grid, he added.


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