IAS Gyan



27th April, 2021 Mains



  • India is at the cusp of a renewable energy revolution.
  • As of 2020, 38% of India's installed electricity generation capacity is from renewable sources. This comes to 136 GW out of 373 GW. And the government has already set an ambitious target to achieve 175 gigawatt (GW) of renewable energy capacity by 2022.

What Is Renewable Energy?

  • Renewable energy, often referred to as clean energy, comes from natural sources or processes that are constantly replenished. For example, sunlight or wind keep shining and blowing, even if their availability depends on time and weather.

Types of Renewable Energy Sources

The most common renewable power technologies include:


This takes advantage of wind motion to generate electricity. Wind motion is brought about by the heat from the sun, and rotation of the earth, mainly via the Coriolis Effect.


It taps heat from the sun to produce energy for the generation of electricity, heating, lighting homes and commercial buildings.


Utilizes moving water to produce electricity. Moving water creates high energy that can be harnessed and turned into power.


Organic matter that constitutes plants is referred to as biomass, which can be utilized to generate electricity, chemicals or fuels to power vehicles.


Takes advantage of rising and falling of tides to generate electricity


Leverages heat from underneath the earth to generate electricity.

The Advantages of Renewable Energy Resources

A Fuel Supply That Never Runs Out

Renewable energy is created from sources that naturally replenish themselves – such as sunlight, wind, water, biomass, and even geothermal (underground) heat.

While fossil fuels are becoming harder and more expensive to source – resulting in the destruction of natural habitats and significant financial losses – renewable energy never runs out.

Zero Carbon Emissions

There are no greenhouse gasses or other pollutants created during the process. Coal power plants on the other hand create around 2.2 pounds of CO2 for every kilowatt-hour of electricity.

As we race to decarbonize our world and embrace energy sources that don’t contribute to global warming, renewables are helping to provide us with emission-free energy..

Cleaner environment

Burning fossil fuels causes global warming and causes pollution.

Coal power stations, for example, release high volumes of carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide (N2O) directly into the atmosphere – two of the most potent greenhouse gasses. In addition, they also emit mercury, lead, sulfur dioxide, particulates, and dangerous metals – which can cause a host of health problems ranging from breathing difficulties to premature death.  

On the other hand, renewable energy creates no pollution, waste, or contamination risks to air and water.

A Cheaper Form of energy

With the rapid growth of renewable energy over the last ten years, solar and wind power are now the cheapest sources of energy in many parts of the world. In the United Arab Emirates a new sun farm recently secured the world’s lowest price of solar energy at just 1.35c per kilowatt-hour.

Whereas green energy was once a “clean-but-expensive” alternative – it’s now helping to reduce energy bills for people in many parts of the world.

Renewable Energy Creates New Jobs

With an increasing focus on global warming and many governments setting ambitious carbon-reduction goals Renewable Energy has quickly become a major source of new job growth.

Challenges of Renewable Energy

Higher Capital Costs

While renewable energy systems need no fuel and can deliver substantial long-term savings, their up-front costs can still be prohibitive.

On a larger scale, wind farms, solar parks, and hydropower stations require significant investment, land, and electrical infrastructure.

Electricity Production Can Be Unreliable

Renewable energy systems rely on natural resources such as sunlight, wind, and water, and therefore, their electricity generation can be as unpredictable as the weather. Solar panels lose efficiency on cloudy days, wind turbines aren’t effective in calm weather, and hydropower systems need consistent snow and rainfall to maintain reliable production.

At the same time, when renewable systems produce too much energy, they risk overloading the grid and causing major problems for network operators.

Energy Storage

Due to the intermittent nature of renewables, they need forms of energy storage to capture and release electricity in a consistent and controlled way.

Despite falling costs, storage technology is still relatively expensive.

Renewables still have a Carbon Footprint

While solar panels and wind turbines produce no carbon emissions as they make energy – their manufacturing, transport, and installation still creates a carbon footprint.

Present production

Fig: Installed grid interactive renewable power capacity in India as of 30 September 2020 (excluding large hydro)


Paris Agreement Targets

  • In the Paris Agreement India has committed to an Intended Nationally Determined Contributions target of achieving 40% of its total electricity generation from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030.

Central Electricity Authority's strategy blueprint

  • We are also aiming for a more ambitious target of 57% of the total electricity capacity from renewable sources by 2027 in Central Electricity Authority's strategy blueprint.
  • According to 2027 blueprint, India aims to have 275 GW from renewable energy, 72 GW of hydroelectricity, 15 GW of nuclear energy and nearly 100 GW from “other zero emission” sources.
  • There is also a target for installation of Rooftop Solar Projects(RTP) of 40 GW by 2022 including installation on rooftop of houses.

UN Climate Summit

  • In 2019 at UN climate summit, India announced that it will be more than doubling its renewable energy target from 175GW by 2022 to 450GW of renewable energy by the same year.
  • These targets would place India among the world leaders in renewable energy use and place India at the centre of its "Sunshine Countries" International Solar Alliance project promoting the growth and development of solar power internationally to over 120 countries.

Some Government’s Initiatives for generating Renewable Energy

Grid Connected Solar Rooftop Programme

Objective: For achieving cumulative capacity of 40,000 MW from Rooftop Solar (RTS) Projects by the year 2022.

Solar Park Scheme

MNRE has come up with a scheme to set up a number of solar parks across several states, each with a capacity of almost 500 MW. The scheme proposes to offer financial support by the Government of India to establish solar parks to facilitate the creation of infrastructure required for setting up new solar power projects in terms of allocation of land, transmission, access to roads, availability of water, etc.

International Solar Alliance

The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is an alliance of 121 countries initiated by India, most of them being sunshine countries, which lie either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. The primary objective of the alliance is to work for efficient consumption of solar energy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

The initiative was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the India Africa Summit, and a meeting of member countries ahead of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21) in Paris in November 2015. The framework agreement of the International Solar Alliance opened for signatures in Marrakech, Morocco in November 2016, and 200 countries have joined.

HQ- Gurugram, Haryana


Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evem Utthan Mahabhiyan (PM KUSUM) Scheme for farmers aims for installation of solar pumps and grid connected solar and other renewable power plants in the country.

The scheme aims to add solar and other renewable capacity of 25,750 MW by 2022.

National Green Corridor Project

The green energy corridor is grid connected network for the transmission of renewable energy produced from various renewable energy projects.

National Wind-Solar Hybrid Policy

This policy essentially aims at establishing a structure on the basis of which large-scale wind-solar hybrid power projects can be promoted.

National Offshore Wind Energy Policy

The objective is to develop the offshore wind energy in the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) along the Indian coastline.

Sustainable Rooftop Implementation for Solar Transfiguration of India (SRISTI) scheme

The Central government will offer with financial incentive to the beneficiary for installing Solar power plant rooftop projects within the country.

Biomass power & cogeneration programme

It is being implemented with the main objective of promoting technologies for optimum use of country's biomass resources for grid power generation.

Draft National Wind-Solar Hybrid Policy:

The main objective of the Policy is to provide a framework for promotion of large grid connected wind - solar PV hybrid system for optima l and efficient utilization of transmission infrastructure and land, reducing the variability in renewable power generation and achieving better grid stability.

FDI Policy

100% FDI is allowed in the renewable energy sector under the Automatic route and no prior Government approval is needed.

Akshay Urja Portal and India Renewable Idea Exchange (IRIX) Portal

Promotes the exchange of ideas among energy conscious Indians and the Global community.

National Biogas and Manure Management Programme

Central Sector Schemes that provides for  setting up of Family Type Biogas Plants mainly for rural and semi-urban/households.

Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme

Incentives for High Efficiency Solar PV Modules for Enhancing India’s Manufacturing Capabilities and Enhancing Exports.

Top five largest solar power plants in India

Bhadla Solar Park

The Bhadla Solar Park, which is the largest solar power plant in the world, is based in Bhadla village, in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur district.

Spanning 14,000 acres, the fully operational power plant has been installed with a capacity of 2,250MW.

Shakti Sthala solar power project – 2,050MW

The Shakti Sthala solar power project in Tumakuru district, Karnataka, is now the second-largest solar power plant in India, having previously been the largest of its type in the world.

Ultra Mega Solar Park – 1,000MW

Based in Kurnool district, Andhra Pradesh – another leading Indian state for solar power – the 1,000-MW Ultra Mega Solar Park spans an area of more than 5,932 acres.

Rewa Solar Power Project – 750MW

The 750-MW Rewa Solar Power Project is being constructed in Madhya Pradesh. The Rewa solar power plant is one of the major power suppliers to the Delhi Metro – a mass rapid transit system in India’s capital city.

Rewa is the country’s first and only solar project until now to be funded from the Clean Technology Fund and also India’s only solar power plant to obtain a concessional loan from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation.

Kamuthi solar power plant – 648MW

The Kamuthi solar power plant in Ramanathapuram district, Tamil Nadu, is the fifth-largest plant of its kind in India. The plant is cleaned by every day a robotic system that has its own solar panels to charge it.

India’s Focus Areas

Methanol and Biomass:

  • Utilizing other alternatives like methanol-based economy and biomass.
  • Bio-CNG vehicles with 20% blending in petrol is also a target for the government.
  • Generating energy from Biomass is a better option since it will clean the cities and also decrease our energy dependence. Fuels created from biomass have a high calorific value and are cleaner than traditional biomass.

The Twin Challenge

  • India has a twin challenge of providing more as well as cleaner energy to the population in India.
  • It should focus on getting into the manufacturing of solar panels under the Atma Nirbhar Bharat initiative because the demand is to generate jobs and supply decentralised energy to all the households in India.
  • Developing the whole supply chain of all the components besides the manufacturing sector.

Hydrogen based FCV

  • It is likely to change the landscape of renewables and moving towards Hydrogen Based Fuel Cells Vehicles (FCV) is another area of focus.

Grid Integration

  • It is the practice of developing effective ways to provide variable renewable energy (RE) to the grid.


India’s clean-energy initiatives have the wind at their back thanks to global advances in green technology—especially solar power, wind power, and energy storage. These technologies are progressing exponentially and have entered a virtuous cycle: As prices for these technologies fall, demand for them rises, and as production is expanded to meet demand, prices fall some more, all of which contributes to accelerating adoption. 

Two burning questions for India — and the world — are how fast the use of renewables and related clean energy technologies can scale, and to what extent can they mitigate the increase in fossil fuel use. As the second-largest coal-producing and -consuming country on earth and the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, India’s transition from carbon-intensive resources is a critical front in the global climate change fight.

India has reduced its emission intensity by 21 percent over 2005 levels. Over the last decade, India focused mostly on adding solar and wind energy capacity as fast as possible.  The next phase will require deep structural reforms to create a cleaner, more flexible and more efficient power system.