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India’s renewable energy plans require $34bn investment by 2017
The government of India’s ambitious plans for renewable energy have grown incrementally in the last few years, with it quadrupling its target for solar capacity only this year. Until now many of these goals seemed rather far off but have prompted a surge of investment in the country’s renewable energy infrastructure.
The government has now set a bold short-term target under which is will aim to add 17GW of renewable energy generation capacity in the next six years, renewable energy secretary Uma Shankar said this week. And the new target is estimated to require up to $33.8bn in new investment by 2017.
For the full effect of India’s renewable energy goals to be realised, the effect of population growth and energy demand must be accounted for. The country’s electricity demand is expected to nearly double by 2017, for which close to 100GW will be required in additional capacity.
A host of renewable energy companies are targeting the sale of innovative solar products in particular to India, where high energy costs and burgeoning electricity demand is crippling the country’s present energy reserves. UK Cambridge University spin-out Eight19 is one company that is looking to develop cheaper printed solar film for use in products such as solar-powered chargers for the India market. The company’s CEO Simon Bransfield-Garth said that the cost of electricity in India is known to be at least five times the price tag paid in the UK.
India has also attracted recent investment interest from investors such as early-stage backer Matrix Partners, which was reported to be eyeing a $15.7m investment in India-based renewable energy company Soham Renewable Energy.
Homegrown companies such as infrastructure developer Tata Power are also getting in on the act. Tata, India’s largest energy utility, is looking to add more than 150MW of wind energy to its portfolio and increase its production of solar energy by ten times its current levels, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year.
The government of East Indian state Gujarat alone invested $2.55bn in the development of a renewable energy park in January at the state’s proposed Waterfront City in Dholera, Ahmedabad district.
Renewable energy capacity in India accounts for 11 per cent of its total installed power capacity, or 20GW. Coal still accounts for 40 per cent of the country’s energy usage, while oil is used for 24 per cent.
According to the federal government’s plans at the start of this year, the country was aiming to develop 20GW of solar power alone by 2022, ten per cent of which would include off-grid distributed solar capacity. The country spent $10.2m on subsidising solar-powered lights for rural areas in 2010.