India Finally Investing More in Solar than Coal: IEA

Renewable energy investments in India are finally outpacing its expenditure on fossil fuel power generation says IEA

The International Energy Agency said in a new report on worldwide energy investment that the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the United States, and home to more than one-sixth of humanity India “had the second largest jump in energy investment in 2018 after the United States.”

The report added,” In recent years, the fastest investment growth (up 12%) within this group has come from India with rising power sector spending, while spending in sub-Saharan Africa has declined, mostly due to less investment in fuel supply.”

“There has been a very big step change in terms of the shift in investments in India in just the past three years,” Michael Waldron, an author of the report, said. “But, there are a number of risks around whether this shift can be continued and be sustained over time.”

The report found that renewable power investments in India exceeded those of fossil fuel-based power for the third year in a row, and that spending on solar energy surpassed spending on coal-fired power generation for the first time in 2018. Not all new energy investments are going into renewables, however, and coal power generation is still growing.

The International Energy Agency projects that coal-fired power will decline from 74 percent of total electricity generation today to 57 percent in 2040 under current policies as new energy investments increasingly go into renewable energy rather than fossil fuels. More aggressive climate policies could reduce coal power to as little as 7 percent of generation by 2040, IEA says.

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It now has more than 77 gigawatts of installed renewable energy capacity, more than double what it had just four years ago. Additional projects totaling roughly 60 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity are in the works. In contrast, India’s new coal power generation has dropped from roughly 20 gigawatts of additional capacity per year to less than 10 gigawatts added in each of the last three years.

On Energy Efficiency too, the report said,” India is an emerging source of industrial energy efficiency investment in the Asia and Pacific region, which grew by nearly 5%.” It added that modernization of industrial facilities coupled with strong mandatory government policy, through the Perform, Achieve, Trade (PAT) Scheme, have been the contributing factors for increased investment.

While the report does not touch it, climate emergency might dictate that India stop expanding further coal investments by as early as 2022, with a focus from their on for more efficient thermal plants and possibly even nuclear power as a baseload option.

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