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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge


Bhavya Anand

Targets and Scenarios for Solar and Wind Energy in India: The Potential for National GHG Reductions and a Gap Analysis

India, as part of its commitment to the Paris Agreement, agreed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, through a series of measures, especially in the power sector. One of the key mitigation strategies was to increase the proportion of non-fossil fuel-based generation significantly. A 40% penetration of renewables by 2030 and an intermediate target of 175 GW by the year 2022 was set.

The aim of this research is to analyse the impact of the 175 GW renewables target on reduction in GHG emissions and the progress made in this quest, in order to guide a course correction. Further, this research also aims to analyse the effect on emissions reduction if the system is subjected to grid constraints. Also, the research explores low-cost solutions to minimize the aforementioned effect.

A quantitative analysis was done to calculate the reduction in GHG emissions using the guidelines laid down by the Clean Development Mechanism of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for grid-connected renewable electricity generation. For estimating progress, two scenarios are considered – one based on a historical growth trend (since 2005) and the other based on an accelerated growth trend (since 2015). The effect of grid constraints has been calculated by measuring the gap between the actual generation from solar and wind and the possible potential generation without the constraints. For bridging the gap, again two measures have been looked into – first, utilizing the storage capacity of electric vehicles and second, changing the generation scheduling process.

A GHG emissions reduction of 245.75 Million t CO2/ year was estimated for the year 2022, which is more than 26% of the absolute emissions by the power sector in India for the year 2017-18. The accelerated growth rate was estimated at 26%, which is more than sufficient to reach the target of 175 GW. Further, the result of the gap analysis showed that the minimum curtailment in renewables for the year 2022 is around 4%. Finally, the two measures analyzed here to bridge the gap yielded positive results.

With electric vehicles, a maximum of 68% bridging is possible. The reduction in the generation scheduling block from 15 minutes to 5 minutes can also have a similar effect. This research provides a mirror for policymakers on their current course of action and the corrections needed, if any, to extract the maximum possible benefits from clean generation sources, so as to strengthen efforts in the climate change mitigation process. The gap reduction measures explored are low-cost solutions with ample benefits and can be highly suitable to a developing economy such as India’s.