India's renewable energy sector might fail to meet its 175 GW target by 2022: CSE report

India's renewable energy (RE) sector seems to be losing steam and may find it tough to meet its 175 gigawatts (GW) target by 2022, even as its total capacity reached almost 86 GW by December 2019, claimed a new report released on Tuesday.

The latest State of India's Environment Annual report was released by think tank Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) at the 2020 Annual Media Conclave and Anil Agarwal Dialogue organised in Alwar.

"India has set itself a target of 175 gigawatts (GW) RE capacity by 2022, mainly in the form of 100 GW solar and 60 GW wind. Between 2014 and 2018, the RE sector grew from 2.6 GW to 28 GW — a cumulative aggregated growth rate of around 18 percent. But there has been a slowdown in capacity addition and auctions due to emerging risks and unaddressed structural issues," the report said.

India has set itself a target of 175 gigawatts (GW) RE capacity by 2022, mainly in the form of 100 GW solar and 60 GW wind energy.

CSE researchers said the government must restore the sanctity of auctions by removing arbitrary barriers like ceilings and by refraining from cancellations or postponement of bids.

"New mechanisms should be explored to manage discom risks. Simultaneously, the government should start working on the country's longer-term energy decarbonisation vision," the CSE said.

Annual additions to solar capacity have dipped drastically to 6.5 GW in 2018-19, from 9.4 GW in 2017-18, the report said.

"In wind energy, against a sizeable 5.4 GW added in 2016-17, less than 2 GW was added annually in the following two years.

"The capacity auctioned to developers has remained almost constant at 2-3 GW. The share of RE in India's power generation in 2018 19 was 10 per cent, a far cry from the national goal of 40 per cent share by 2030," it claimed.

According to the report prepared by CSE, the stagnation is due to a combination of factors affecting every aspect from auctions and power purchase agreements (PPAs) to rising costs and payment delays.

"The slowdown, naturally, raises doubts about India's capability to meet the 175 GW target. To catch up, the country is now required to install 37.8 GW of solar rooftop, 32.1 GW of solar utility and 23.3 GW of wind power capacity in a short span of just two and half years," the CSE said.

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