Investments in renewable energy sources like wind and solar projects are receiving more attention from the Indian government than their fossil fuel equivalents, according to new reports from the International Energy Agency.
The IEA has observed continued investment in renewables over the past 36 months and now, according to their figures, India has invested more into solar energy than it has in coal-fired electricity generation.
The IEA says that the Modi-government’s policy shift is being driven by policy changes - potentially Paris Climate Accord targets - as well as the renewables market becoming more economically viable, with ever-cheaper prices for photovoltaic cells, as well as the requisite infrastructure.
Michael Waldron, author of the report told Inside Climate News’ Phil McKenna that “there has been a very big step change in terms of the shift in investments in India in just the past three years.”
However, as Waldron explains, “there are a number of risks around whether this shift can be continued and sustained over time,” he said.
India has a population of around 1.4-billion people, and is currently the world’s third-largest contributor of greenhouse gases, behind China and the United States, respectively.
According to McKenna’s reporting, India “has more than 77 gigawatts of installed renewable energy capacity, more than double what it had just four years ago.” In addition, there are an estimated 60 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity planned for construction.
Back in 2015, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a 175 gigawatt commitment to supply India’s growing population with renewable energy. Modi’s plans constituted India’s attempt at meeting the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, which is difficult for a developing nation of India’s size.
According to The Independent, “each person in India uses one-tenth that of a US citizen - but that is changing fast with people increasingly consuming larger amounts of energy.”
“As a result, BP has estimated India’s overall energy demands could double by 2040 due to further population growth and economic development.”
This is a challenge that India is prepared to face with more renewables, according to Sameer Kwatra, a climate change and energy policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council, who told Inside Climate News that “there is a realisation that renewables are quicker, cleaner, cheaper and also strategically in India’s interest because of energy security; it just makes financial sense to invest in renewables.”
Last week, we reported that global investment in coal-powered plants was on a steep decline- 75% to be exact. In that report, we quoted Dr Fatih Birol, the International Energy Agency’s executive director who released a statement “Energy investments now face unprecedented uncertainties, with shifts in markets, policies and technologies.”
“But the bottom line is that the world is not investing enough in traditional elements of supply to maintain today’s consumption patterns, nor is it investing enough in cleaner energy technologies to change course. Whichever way you look, we are storing up risks for the future.”