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India Plans to Invest $330 Billion to Power Renewable Energy by 2030 Without Hurting Coal

India wants to have 175 GW of renewable-based installed power capacity by 2022

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renewable energy
FILE - Workers clean photovoltaic panels at a solar power plant in Gujarat, India, July 2, 2015. VOA

India said on Thursday it needs $330 billion in investments over the next decade to power its renewable energy dream, but coal would remain central to its electricity generation.

The energy guzzling country wants to raise its renewable energy capacity to 500 Gigawatts (GW), or 40% of total capacity, by 2030. Renewables currently account for 22% of India’s total installed capacity of about 357 GW.

“Additional investments in renewable plants up to year 2022 would be about $80 billion at today’s prices and an investment of around $250 billion would be required for the period 2023-2030,” according to the government’s economic survey presented to parliament on Thursday. India wants to have 175 GW of renewable-based installed power capacity by 2022.

renewable energy
Solar-powered smart windows can help you save energy costs. Pixabay

The investment estimate reflects the magnitude of financial challenges facing one of the world’s most important growth markets for renewable energy, with government data indicating a growth slowdown in private and capital investments in the year ended March 2019.

India, which receives twice as much sunshine as European countries, wants to make solar a cornerstone of its renewable expansion, but also wants to make use of its cheap and abundant coal reserves, the fifth-largest in the world.

The annual economic survey warned India against abruptly halting coal-based utilities, citing risks to its banking sector and the stability of the electricity grid.

“It may not be advisable to effect a sudden abandonment of coal based power plants without complete utilization of their useful lifetimes as it would lead to stranding of assets that can have further adverse impact on the banking sector,” the survey said.

renewable energy
India wants to have 175 GW of renewable-based installed power capacity by 2022. VOA

Thermal power plants account for 80% of all industrial emissions of particulate matter, sulfur and nitrous oxides in India. India, one of the world’s largest coal producers and greenhouse gas emitters, estimates coal to be its energy mainstay for at least the next three decades. The country’s coal use rose 9.1% to nearly a billion tons in 2018-19.

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The survey said it would be difficult for a growing economy like India to migrate to renewable power supply unless “sufficient technological breakthrough in energy storage happens in the near future”.

Environmentalists worry that India’s rising use of coal at a time when many Western nations are rejecting the dirty fossil fuel will hamper the global fight against climate change, despite the country’s commitment to renewable energy. (VOA)

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Researchers: Renewable Energy Sources can Reduce Carbon Emissions but at Expense of Increased Inequality

Conversely, it reduces emissions to a lesser degree when occurring in a context of decreasing inequality

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Renewable Energy
A special subsidy scheme in the solar energy sector for which the state government will give a subsidy of 40 per cent up. Pixabay

The world must think more holistically about how it addresses renewable energy as efforts to shift away from fossil fuels and replace oil and coal with renewable energy sources can help reduce carbon emissions but at the expense of increased inequality, warn researchers.

The team from Portland State University (PSU) and Vanderbilt University found in a study of 175 nations from 1990 to 2014 that renewable energy consumption reduces carbon emissions more effectively when it occurs in a context of increasing inequality.

Conversely, it reduces emissions to a lesser degree when occurring in a context of decreasing inequality. “People who are just making ends meet and can barely afford their energy bills will make a choice between food and their energy,” said Julius McGee, assistant professor of sociology in PSU.

Renewable Energy
The Gujarat government is planning to upgrade the state’s installed capacity in the renewable energy sector to an ambitious 30,000 megawatt (MW). Pixabay

“We don’t think of energy as a human right when it actually is. The things that consume the most energy in your household — heating, cooling, refrigeration — are the things you absolutely need,” McGee added.

The findings, published in the journal Energy Research & Social Science, support previous claims by researchers who argue that renewable energy consumption may be indirectly driving energy poverty.

“Energy poverty” is when a household has no or inadequate access to energy services such as heating, cooling, lighting, and use of appliances due to a combination of factors: low income, increasing utility rates, and inefficient buildings and appliances.

renewable energy
Solar-Powered Smart Windows can help you save energy costs. Pixabay

In poorer nations, renewable sources of electricity have been used to alleviate “energy poverty”. In rural areas in southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, a solar farm can give an agrarian community access to electricity that historically never had access to energy.

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“That’s not having any impact on carbon dioxide emissions because those rural communities never used fossil fuels in the first place,” McGee said. Policymakers consider implementing policy tools that are aimed at both reducing inequality and reducing emissions.

“We need to be focusing on addressing concerns around housing and energy poverty before we actually think about addressing climate change within the confines of a consumer sovereignty model,” stressed McGee. (IANS)