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Renewable Energy in India

2024 JAN 1

Mains   > Science and Technology   >   Energy   >   Renewable energy

Syllabus: GS 3> Science and Technology   >   Energy   >   Renewable energy



  • In 2024, India is expected to see its investments in renewable energy projects soar by over 83%, reaching about USD 16.5 billion, as per the Power Ministry's recent estimates, reflecting the nation's focus on transitioning to renewable energy to lower carbon emissions.
  • This is in line with India’s ambitious target of having 500 GW of renewable energy by 2030 and its resolve to reduce overall power generation capacity from fossil fuels to less than 50%. India has committed a net zero emission target by 2070.


  • As per the International Energy Agency (IEA), ‘Renewable energy is derived from natural processes that are replenished constantly. In its various forms, it derives directly from the sun, or from heat generated deep within the earth.’
  • Included in the definition is electricity and heat generated from solar, wind, ocean, hydropower, biomass, geothermal resources, and biofuels and hydrogen derived from renewable resources.


  • India stands 4th globally in renewable energy installed capacity (source: Invest India), with 43% of its installed electricity capacity coming from non-fossil fuel sources.
Installed generation capacity as on 31.05.2023  Source : Central Electricity Authority (CEA)
CategoryInstalled Generation Capacity(MW)% Of Share In Total
Total Fossil Fuel2,37,26956.8 %
Renewable sources173,61941.4%
Hydro46,85011.2 %
Wind42,86810.3 %
Solar67,07816.1 %
Biomass/Cogen10,2482.5 %
Waste to Energy5540.1 %
Small Hydro Power4,9441.2 %
Total Non-Fossil Fuel(including Nuclear)179,32243.0%

Total Installed Capacity

(Fossil Fuel & Non-Fossil Fuel)



  • Combat climate change:
    • Renewables offer a solution to the dichotomy between development and environmental sustainability and help India meet its climate goals.
    • Also, certain renewable sources help in carbon sequestration. Eg: Plants like Jathropha used for bio-ethanol production acts as carbon sinks.
  • Attain energy security:
    • India’s fossil fuel requirements are mostly met by imports. Abundance of solar and wind energy can fulfill India clean energy demands, thereby diversifying its energy basket and reduce import bill.
  • Meet rising energy needs:
    • As per the International Energy Agency’s World Energy OutlookIndia is likely to see the world's biggest rise in energy demand this decade. Demand may climb 3% annually due to urbanisation and industrialisation. Renewables are needed to meet this demand.
  • Supplement depleting energy sources:
    • India lacks sufficient petroleum reserves and its coal reserves are poised to be depleted by the end of this century. However, with 300 clear sunny days, perennial rivers, a 7500 km coastline and rich agrarian fields, India has abundant sources of clean energy.
  • Industrial development:
    • India’s energy poverty is a major challenge faced by industries. Clean fuels like hydrogen can reduce the deficit and promote decarbonization of industries.
    • Eg: Ammonia produced from green hydrogen can replace carbon intensive natural gas-based ammonia
  • Facilitate e-mobility transition:
    • The Centre is pushing for mass e-mobility through initiatives like FAME-II and Make in India. To attain this goal, energy needs to be affordable and accessible.
  • Promote energy accessibility: 
    • As they can be setup as standalone off-grid units, renewable energy systems are ideal for areas such as remote and hinterland locations of the country, such as North east India, Ladakh, Kashmir and Left-wing extremism affected areas.
  • Inclusive growth: 
    • Ensuring basic energy services to all is part of the SDGs and clean energy, which is becoming cheaper by the day, can help attain it. For instance,  according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity has dropped by more than 80% since 2010.
  • Women empowerment:
    • Use of biomass such as dung and agricultural waste cause indoor pollution and increase the burden on women. Access to clean energy and the consequent time savings enable women to avail opportunities for their development, like education and skill-training.
  • Employment generation:
    • Clean energy sources require skilled manpower for their production and operation. This is suitable for India’s potential demographic dividend, especially for the technically educated youth. Eg: Ethanol production from farm residue can create jobs in Plant Operations, Village Level Entrepreneurs and Supply Chain Management.


  • National Solar Mission:
    • Part of the National Action Plan on Climate Change, it seeks to establish India as a global leader in solar energy, by creating the policy conditions for its diffusion across the country as quickly as possible.
  • National offshore wind energy policy:
    • With the introduction of the National Offshore Wind Energy Policy, the Centre is attempting to replicate the success of the onshore wind power development.
  • National wind-solar hybrid energy policy:
    • Under the category of wind-solar hybrid power plants, Wind Turbine Generators (WTGs) and Solar PV systems will be configured to operate at the same point of grid connection.
  • National Biofuel Policy, 2018:
    • The Policy categorizes biofuels as basic and advanced to enable extension of appropriate financial and fiscal incentives under each category.
  • National Hydrogen Mission:


  • Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for High Efficiency Solar PV Modules:
    • The national programme on High Efficiency Solar PV Modules has provisions for supporting setting up of integrated manufacturing units of high efficiency solar PV modules by providing PLI on sales of such solar PV modules.
  • Green energy corridor project:
    • The project aims at synchronizing electricity produced from renewable sources with conventional power stations in the grid, leading to an integrated grid across the nation.
  • Sustainable Rooftop Implementation for Solar Transfiguration of India (SRISTI):
    • The scheme, part of the larger grid-connected Rooftop Solar (RTS) power programme, aims to bring DISCOMs to the forefront in the implementation of rooftop solar projects.
  • Pradhan Mantri Jaiv Indhan-Vatavaran Anukool fasal awashesh Nivaran (PM Ji-VAN) yojana.
  • Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM).
  • GOBAR-Dhan yojana.
  • Perform Achieve and Trade (PAT) scheme.
  • Other Initiatives:
  • International Solar Alliance:
  • Promotion of waste-to-energy plants: Eg: Delhi Metro became the first ever project in the country to receive power generated from a waste-to-energy plant.


  • Infrastructural deficiencies:
    • Renewable energy development in India faces challenges such as the need for large land areas for wind and solar plants, inadequate transmission infrastructure and efficient power storage systems, and transport limitations, especially for large windmill blades on narrow roads, affecting plant capacity, particularly in rural areas.
  • Institutional challenges:
    • Capital costs: The upfront expense of building and installing solar and wind farms are very high. Hence it is unviable for state-run DISCOMs with fragile financial health to take up such projects.
    • Weak private investments: Cut-throat competition among producers is forcing cost of renewables to decline to unsustainable levels. This, along with the NPA crisis, is creating shortage of capital for private investors.
    • Unpredictable government policies:
  • In India's power sector, abrupt regulations and taxes, like the 5% GST on solar panels, have impacted the profitability of projects. Additionally, the withdrawal of some states from Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) has added uncertainty to the industry.
  • Financial constrains:
    • To reach its 2070 net-zero emission goals, India needs over a trillion dollars in financing. However, current financing trends show 60% of mining sector funding goes to oil and gas extraction, and 20% of manufacturing sector loans are for petroleum refining and related activities.
  • Geographical constrains:
    • Most of the major renewable sources are location specific in nature. Remoteness of generating source, especially off grid locations, makes periodic maintenance difficult
  • Import dependency:
    • Over 80 % of solar cells and modules are imported from China. Also, the COVID 19 pandemic and border disputes have disrupted production and transport of key equipment.
  • Environmental concerns:
    • Renewable sources are not fully ecofriendly. Eg: Solar plants increase the albedo, thereby affecting its microclimate of the region. Also, used solar cells are e-wastes, the disposal of which poses a major challenge. 
  • Human resource shortages:
    • There is a shortage of experts in India’s financial institutions with the expertise to appropriately advise the institutions on lending for energy transition. Shortage of trained technicians for installation, periodic repair, and maintenance is acute in India.


India’s future is heavily dependent on how well it can develop on renewable energy. The government needs to sort out its internal issues which are hindering the nation to achieve its target to tap potential energy resources.

  • Import substitution:
    • To reduce reliance on imported critical minerals like rare earth minerals (REMs) in renewable energy, India needs to focus on efficiently utilizing its domestic resources, such as the REMs found in Kerala's beach sands.
  • Storage Technology:
    •  Encourage research in indigenous energy storage solutions to enhance the reliability of renewable sources.
  • Stable Policy Support: 
    • Involve industry stakeholders in policy-making for renewables and strengthen Power Purchase Agreement structures for better project viability.
  • Explore Full Potential: 
    • Maximize the use of India's abundant renewable resources to address energy deficits and reduce foreign dependence.
  • Promote Energy Efficiency: 
    • Implement aggressive energy efficiency measures, including smart metering, appliance efficiency ratings, and green building codes.


Q. India has set ambitious targets in developing its renewable energy capacity. Discuss the challenges in attaining these targets. What measures have been taken by the government in this regard? (15 marks, 250 words)