India added 3rd highest renewable power capacity in 2021 after China, US: Report


India added around 15.4 gigawatts (GW) of renewable power capacity in 2021, the third highest after China (136 GW) and the United States (43 GW), according to a global status report released on Wednesday.

The REN21’s renewables 2022 global status report noted that with this growth, India is now the third-largest market in the world for new solar photovoltaics (PV) capacity and ranked fourth in the world for total solar energy installations (60.4 GW) by overtaking Germany at 59.2 GW and following China (305.9 GW), US (121.4 GW) and Japan (78 GW).

While this growth has put India in an important position in terms of generation of renewable energy, the report said that last year, aftershock of the Covid-19 pandemic and a rise in commodity prices led to a disruption in renewable energy supply chains and delayed renewable energy projects.

Though there was a rebound in economic activity, the subsequent 4% increase in global energy demand was mostly met by fossil fuels, the report noted, resulting in record carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

A spike in energy prices in the second half of 2021, followed by the Ukraine crisis early this year, contributed to an unprecedented global energy crisis and commodity shock, the report said, which led the governments to implement short-term measures to diversify fossil fuel import sources, ramp up domestic production and subsidise energy use.

“This situation has exposed the world to ever more pressing climate disasters as well as to geopolitical and economic threats,” the report said.

Over the past year, China has announced plans to increase coal production by 300 million tonnes (equivalent to 7% of current levels), the US has seen a boom in new fracking and drilling projects, and the European Union has initiated a series of short-term measures to diversify gas imports, most of which have benefited the fossil fuel industry.

This counters the dire calls by climate scientists at Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to not only shelve new fossil fuel projects but also close existing extraction sites as part of the push to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius, the report emphasised.

“Although many more governments committed to net zero greenhouse gas emissions in 2021, the reality is that, in response to the energy crisis, most countries have gone back to seeking out new sources of fossil fuels and to burning even more coal, oil and natural gas,” said Rana Adib, REN21 executive director in a statement on Wednesday.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide peaked at 421 parts per million in May, according to measurements carried out at the Mauna Loa observatory of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Carbon dioxide levels are now more than 50% higher than pre-industrial times, the World Meteorological Organisation said last week, concentrations that have not been seen for millions of years.

The report also noted that the overall share of renewable energy across the globe has begun to stagnate, rising only marginally from 2009, when it was at 10.6%, to 2019, when it was at 11.7%. In fact, as of 2019, only three countries out of 80 – Iceland, Norway and Sweden — had a share of renewables in their total final energy consumption of above 50%.

The report said that despite climate commitments, governments continue to heavily subsidise the production and consumption of fossil fuels, spending $5.9 trillion in 2020 – 7% of global gross domestic product (GDP) that year — on direct and indirect fossil fuel subsidies.

“Renewables are the most affordable and best solution to tackle energy price fluctuations. We must boost the share of renewables and make them a priority of economic and industrial policy. We can’t fight a fire with more fire,” Adib said in the statement.

India has allotted $24.3 billion ( 18,100 crore) for its solar energy schemes which provide incentives to domestic and international companies to set up battery manufacturing plants. India invested $11.3 billion in renewables in 2021, equivalent to the GDP of Brunei Darussalam in 2020, the report noted.

“The latest global status report on renewable energy clearly shows that the Government of India’s efforts of aggressively pushing renewable energy into the grid are continuously bearing fruit. An addition of 15 GW during a pandemic year is an important milestone. Having said that, growth in renewable energy has to be even faster, almost 40 GW per year for the next nine years, to achieve the 2030 target as put forward by the Prime Minister at Glasgow. Higher economic growth is crucial to achieve the ambitious 2030 renewable energy targets,” said Vaibhav Chaturvedi, fellow at the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW).

Speaking at the Glasgow climate summit on November 1 last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that India’s non-fossil energy capacity will reach 500GW by 2030, meeting 50% of the country’s energy requirements at that time. He said that India will reduce its total projected carbon emissions by 1 billion tonnes by 2030, reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by 45% by 2030 over 2005 levels, and will achieve net-zero emissions by 2070.


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