With The Rise Of RE, India’s New Coal Capacity Sees Record Drop: Report

Highlights :

  • Coal’s share (including lignite) of total power capacity dropped below 50% for the first time since the 1960s, the IEEFA report said. 
  • However readers will note that this is share of CAPACITY. Coal’s share of generation continues to be much higher, thanks to renewables intermittency.
With The Rise Of RE, India’s New Coal Capacity Sees Record Drop: Report With The Rise Of RE, India's New Coal Capacity Sees Record Drop: Report

A latest report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) said that renewable energy accounted for 71.5% of the record 13,669 megawatts (MW) power generation capacity added by India in the first quarter (Jan-Mar) of this year (2024), while coal’s share (including lignite) of total power capacity dropped below 50% for the first time since the 1960s.

This is well ahead of the Indian government’s target to establish 50% cumulative power generation capacity from non-fossil fuel-based sources by 2030, according to the latest POWERup quarterly report from IEEFA. 

The decline mirrors a global trend, with demand for coal in G7 countries plumbing record lows in 2023, levels not seen since 1900. To accelerate the transition, G7 countries last month vowed to phase out all unabated coal power generation by 2035, expanding on their commitment to end all construction of new coal-fired power plants.

As 2024 shapes as a pivotal year in the global transition away from fossil fuels, India is at the forefront, makes great strides towards the target of Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions, IEEFA said in a statement. 

Large-scale renewable energy projects have been the focus of intense interest, as evidenced by tender issuances crossing a record 69 gigawatts (GW), according to the report, Utility-scale renewable energy tendering trends in India, released this week by IEEFA and JMK Research. 

The tenders issued for utility-scale renewable energy projects in FY2024 far surpassed the government’s seemingly ambitious target of 50GW. “After a slump from 2019 to 2022 due to supply-chain issues and global price spikes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the market has rebounded and gone from strength to strength,” says the report’s contributing author, Vibhuti Garg, Director – South Asia, IEEFA.  

“There is strong investor interest in the Indian utility-scale renewable energy market. The primary reasons are the large-scale potential for market growth, central government support in terms of targets and regulatory frameworks, and higher operating margins.”

India has rocketed to third in the world’s solar power generation rankings, behind only China and the US, according to Ember’s fifth annual Global Electricity Review of 80 countries, released last week. Ranked ninth in 2015, India has now surpassed Japan, which, along with fellow G7 member Germany, has a stubbornly high demand for coal.

Solar was the world’s fastest-growing electricity source for the 19th straight year, adding more than twice as much new electricity as coal last year. India had the world’s fourth-largest increase in solar generation in 2023 (+18 teraWatt hours/TWh), behind China (+156TWh), the US (+33TWh) and Brazil (+22TWh). The top four countries accounted for three-quarters of solar growth in 2023.

Since 2000, the share of global electricity from renewables has expanded from 19% to more than 30%, driven by an increase in solar and wind from 0.2% in 2000 to a record 13.4% in 2023. As a result, the carbon dioxide intensity of global power generation reached a record low in 2023, 12% below the 2007 peak.

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