Potential and renewable energy programmes in India

India has the potential to become the unquestionable world leader in the field of renewables, due to its huge untapped potential and policies supporting these sources. The latter was stated by Indian market analyst Cygnus, which, based on the projects in the pipeline, forecasts an enormous growth in the next few years, mainly in solar, wind power, hydro and biomass power.

Emission of greenhouse gases leading to climate changes is a major concern globally. India is among the top six contributors to greenhouse gas emission, though per capita emission is substantially low compared with other developed countries.

Under the Kyoto Protocol’s terms, industrial country parties will be obligated to limit their greenhouse gas emissions by 2008-12. India has also signed the treaty and under the protocol India focuses now to drive a clean development mechanism aimed at protecting the environment by reducing carbon emissions.

India’s energy demand is increasing with the robust growth in economy. A steady forecasted growth for manufacturing sector would need more power generation in future. However, power generation through fossil fuels raises serious concern over the depleting resources and environmental pollution. In light of this concern, renewable energy is a major option in India.

The energy needs of India, with its nearly 1.2 billion inhabitants, are growing at a very fast rate, even if consumption per capita is very low, about 10 times lower than Italy, for instance.

Currently, about 15,000 MW of renewable energy are installed (excluding large hydropower, which alone has a capacity of 35,000 MW).

Over the past three years additional capacity has increased by 5,531 MW, divided as follows: 3,857 MW of wind power, 1046 MW of biomass (including 724 MW powered by bagasse, the fibrous residue of the sugar cane), 619 MW of small hydro, 20 MW of energy recovery from waste and 8 MW of solar power plants.

Therefore, wind energy has had the leading role, currently accounting for over 72% of the renewable capacity installed in India, with 10,891 MW at the end of 2009 (ranking fifth in the world).

But new development programs are now focusing on hydroelectric and solar power, for about 70,000 MW.

As for hydropower, in 2003 the "50,000 MW” plan was launched, with the aim of creating 162 new power plants, including large and small ones, for a total capacity of 47,930 MW. Currently 77 of the largest projects are under construction, equivalent to a capacity of 37,000 MW.

The target regarding solar power is to install 20,000 MW (both photovoltaic and solar concentration) between 2010 and 2022, added to the currently installed 9.8 MW.