Background

In early October, Piyush Goyal, the Minister of State for Power, Coal and New and Renewable Energy, committed to making India a “renewable superpower.” India has long pledged to develop ‘a greener grid,’ through efforts such as the National Action Plan on Climate Change and the organization of a Global Renewable Energy Summit, to be held in 2015.

However, with all our good intentions and ambitious plans, is India prepared to reduce its dependency on traditional sources of energy? Swaniti Initiative, a Delhi-based NGO, examined our country’s commitment to clean energy by conducting a state-wise analysis of what percentage of total installed electricity capacity is based off of renewable sources, looking at data from 2004 to 2012.Renewable energy sources included in this analysis refer to solar, wind, small hydro, biomass, and urban and industrial waste. The effort is part of Swaniti’s larger mission to compile comprehensive developmental data relating to security, health, livelihoods, education, infrastructure, and the economy on a single user-friendly platform, called Jigyasa [link].

Analysis

The state-wise analysis revealed renewable energy sources to account for a higher percentage of overall state installed capacity in the North Eastern states, with Nagaland (65%), Sikkim (64%), and Arunachal Pradesh (62%) leading the pack. The graph below indicates that in these three states electricity generated from renewable sources has on average accounted for more than 60% of the overall amount of installed electricity capacity in the state between 2004 and 2012. It should be noted that these states are also smaller and more rural, which typically reduces electricity consumption and perhaps makes the implementation of renewable energy easier. With a high potential for wind energy and consistent investment over the years, Tamil Nadu (39%) has the fourth highest renewable energy source (RES) percentage in the country.

Top 10 States with Highest Average RES % of Total Installed Capacity (2004 – 2012)

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Contrastingly, the majority of the Union Territories had no share of their installed capacity based on renewable sources from 2004 to 2012. Likewise, during this same period, both Delhi and Jharkhand had none of their respective installed capacity generated from clean energy sources. Orissa only had 1% of its installed capacity attributable to renewables and West Bengal and Haryana were at 2% respectively.

 

Bottom10 States with Lowest Average RES % of Total Installed Capacity (2004 – 2012)

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Investigating causes

The difference in states’ usage of renewable energy can potentially be attributed to policy. A 2013 Asian Development Bank report on the Tamil Nadu and Karnataka’s successful development of renewable energy concluded that “while the availability of good renewable energy resources is a key determinant behind the success of the programs…other important factors include a favourable policy and regulatory environment, good grid network in the potential areas, land availability…” A 2010 World Bank report concluded that barriers to increased renewable energy production in India were mainly financial, regulatory, or infrastructure-related. Conversely, many of the low-performing states have significant solar, wind and biomass resources that remain untapped.

An analysis of the approaches taken by Tamil Nadu and the North Eastern states contextualises how states can successfully develop their renewable energy resources. North Eastern states have rivers and generally hilly terrain and policy in these states has focused on developing hydropower. The Government of Arunachal Pradesh, for instance, instituted the Small Hydropower Policy, which promotes private participation in development of small hydro projects through certain attractive incentives. Still, much of the vast potential hydropower resources remain undeveloped, partly due to lack of funding.

Similarly, the Government of Sikkim developed liberalized power policies to facilitate capital investment through public, private or joint sector stakeholders. The Central Government has also supported renewable power generation through special incentives for the North East Region and Sikkim, where a capital grant of ₹22.5 million per MW is available for small hydro projects.

With an abundance of wind, Tamil Nadu’s state government has also long supported public-private partnership models for developing large scale wind farms. In 1985, Tamil Nadu created an agency with broad authority to promote renewable energy and coordinate state-wide efforts. The state has developed a range of highly successful policies, financial incentives and subsidies, and infrastructure projects that are all conducive to the production of wind energy.

As India seeks to become the next ‘renewables superpower’ it will need to look to states in the North East and Tamil Nadu as models for innovation, implementation, and commitment to achieving a greener grid. The analysts at Swaniti recommend building upon the 3Ps to achieve this goal:

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With the plethora of successful models for developing renewable energy, and the vast renewable energy potential across India, it is now up to the remaining state and central governments to truly commit to renewable energy.