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 Climate Change

Power
Published on: Dec. 15, 2021, 1:04 p.m.
Powering India
  • Nearly half of India’s electricity supply could be carbon-free by 2030

By Business India Editorial

India can leapfrog to a more sustainable power system by 2030, thanks to the cost reductions in battery storage and wind and solar energy, says a new study.

A recent study by researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) shows that if India achieves its goal of installing 500 GW of non-fossil electricity capacity by 2030, it could reduce electricity costs by 8-10 per cent, provided that the price of renewable energy and batteries continue to fall.

In the publication, “Least Cost Pathway for India's Power System Investments”, the researchers examined a least-cost investment pathway to meet India’s electricity demand through 2030.

The year 2030 will see the carbon emissions intensity of the country’s electricity supply dropping by 43 to 50 per cent from 2020 levels.

In light of rapid industrialisation and rising incomes, India has set ambitious clean-energy targets to reduce pollution and combat climate change while meeting growing electricity demands.

“We found that building such high levels of renewable energy would actually be economical for India, thanks to the cost reductions in clean technologies that have occurred much faster than anticipated,” said Berkeley Lab scientist and the study’s lead author, Nikit Abhyankar.

“However, the key to achieving the lowest costs, while maintaining grid reliability, lies in complementing the renewable energy buildout with flexible resources such as energy storage and demand response, and utilising the existing thermal power assets in the country in the most efficient manner.”

Researchers at Berkeley Lab found that nearly half of India’s electricity supply could be carbon-free by 2030, compared to only 25 per cent in 2020. In order to achieve this, renewable energy capacity would have to quadruple over the next decade.

The researchers also found that integrating renewable energy with flexible resources such as shifting agricultural electricity consumption to solar hours, using batteries to store four to six hours of daily energy for nighttime use, and utilising flexibility in existing thermal power plants saves money over building new coal or gas-fired plants.

The study shows that by 2030 coal consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector can almost hold at 2020 levels. It is therefore unlikely that switching to clean energy sources will result in job losses in mining and transportation over the near to medium term, giving India time to plan for a longer-term transition.


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