Recent reports-global and India specifics-suggests that coal is losing its 'black gold glitter.' To set the records straight, India, in the last four years, has not awarded a single thermal power project. This shows the rise of renewable energy.
Although, India's electricity system is dominated today by coal-75 per cent of generation and 57 per cent of installed capacity-it is expected that coal will remain important for India in 2019, with 99 GW of new plant to be added to replace some of the ageing coal fleet. However, a continuous growth in cheap renewables means that coal's role in the generation mix starts to diminish from the mid-2020s. The country has the cheapest new, wind and solar, anywhere in the world, which poses a profound challenge to the orthodoxy that 'coal is forever the king.' By 2050, wind and solar, supported by batteries and flexible gas will dethrone thermal and dominate India's power mix. This also pushes India's emissions 22 per cent below what it is today.
Published reports suggest that most of India's demand growth will be met by renewables. Already the cheapest new-built electricity on a dollar-per-megawatt-hour basis, solar and wind, have surged with 1.8 TW of new capacity added. This takes India to 1.7 TW of wind and solar capacity in 2050, from 53 GW in 2017-a growth rate of 11 per cent year on year and all renewables to 76 per cent of the capacity mix by 2050, from 32 per cent today. Utility-scale PV capacity becomes 55 times bigger, reaching 989 GW by 2050, equivalent to 30 per cent of total generation. Onshore wind is up 15-fold, reaching 500 GW by 2050 and 29 per cent of total generation. India also adds around 74 GW of hydro, including imports from Nepal and Bhutan, and 34 GW of new nuclear, between 2017 and 2050. Offshore wind also plays a small part, with 46 GW installed by 2050.
That said, according to Bloomberg's New Energy Outlook, India will see a 267 per cent growth in electricity generation between now and 2050, as population increases 24 per cent and GDP rises more than six-fold under a 6.3 per cent year-on-year growth rate. Meanwhile, since India has intensified the energy efficiency programmes to reduce the electricity consumption, from 2020, expect the electricity demand growth decoupling from the GDP.
Lastly, a strong demand growth in India entails the ongoing expansion of its power system. Between 2017 and 2050, it is expected that a total installed capacity to increase more than seven-fold, from 339 GW to 2,414 GW. At that rate of expansion, India will have the second biggest power system in the world by 2039, second only to China.
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