The Indian Minister of New and Renewable Energy has expressed confidence that the country will overachieve on its target to have 175 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity operational by 2022.
RK Singh recently told a meeting of energy ministers from Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa that India would achieve 200 gigawatts of operational renewable energy capacity by the end of 2022. India already has an installed renewable energy capacity of 83 gigawatts with an additional 45 gigawatts operational in the hydro power sector. This takes the total to 128 gigawatts.
A total of 31 gigawatts of capacity is being executed while another 35 gigawatts of capacity is to be auctioned. Taking into account the 13 gigawatts of hydro power capacity under construction, RK Singh expressed confidence that the renewable energy capacity by December 2022 would cross 200 gigawatts.
This statement by Singh comes just days after ratings agency CRISIL raised serious doubts about India’s chances of achieving the 175 gigawatt capacity by March 2022. The agency claimed that India would end with a capacity of just 104 gigawatts and miss the target by 42%. Over 36 gigawatts of the 64 gigawatts of capacity auctioned by the government has either not received adequate response or has not been allocated to developers, CRISIL claimed. Efforts by some state governments to renegotiate renewable energy tariffs and delayed payments to developers also pose significant threats to progress towards the goal.
In a rebuttal to the CRISIL report, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy claimed that the CRISIL report is “is neither factually correct nor takes into account initiatives taken by the MNRE to facilitate accelerated development and deployment of renewable energy in the country … doubts are ill-founded and not reflective of the status on the ground and plans ahead.” The Ministry also clarified that the target is set for 31 December 2022 instead of the widely understood date of 31 March 2022 which marks the end of the Indian financial year of 2021-22.
It is understood that CRISIL did not take into account the 45 gigawatts of large hydro power capacity already operational into its projections. Inclusion of the large hydro power capacity itself pushes the installed renewable energy capacity to almost 130 gigawatts, just 25% short of the 175 gigawatt target.
This is not the first time that a ratings agency has raised doubts over the likely achievement of the renewable energy target. In 2017 another ratings agency ICRA had claimed that the country would be able to achieve an installed capacity of 122 gigawatts by March 2022. However, the MNRE has been consistent in its claim to overachieve on the set target and have 200 gigawatts of operational renewable energy capacity by 2022.
Last year, RK Singh had even increased the target from 175 gigawatts to 227 gigawatts which likely depends heavily on the inclusion of large hydro power capacity. Hydro power projects with capacity over 25 megawatts were not classified as renewable energy projects. This, however, changed a few months back with all large hydro power projects now classified as renewable energy projects.