India is likely to see a record addition of renewable energy capacity as delayed projects from previous auctions are commissioned, according to the International Energy Agency.
The country could add up to 19.8 gigawatt of renewable power capacity in 2022, and 19.4 GW in 2023, the IEA said in its May update. It added 12.7 GW in 2021, which is more than double that of 5.4 GW added the year before, the IEA said.
Boosting clean energy capacity is one of the biggest challenges for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration as an ongoing power crisis highlights the gaps in India’s energy security. Severe heatwaves exacerbated a power crunch, stretching out the country’s mostly fossil fuel-based power infrastructure.
India had set an ambitious target of 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022, one which it is likely to miss. Halted work and supply chain snags due to the pandemic led to slower addition in 2020. It has now enhanced the target to 500 GW by 2030.
The delayed projects, which have been commissioned in previous auctions, will accelerate renewable addition over the next two years, the IEA said.
“In India, delayed projects in 2021 leads to higher growth in 2022, with increased distributed solar capacity supporting the overall upward revisions.”
The IEA also highlighted that the weak financial health of India’s power distribution companies are the biggest challenge to rapid deployment.
Discoms are scurrying to stem their losses and reduce their massive debt burden. That limits their ability to purchase enough power for customers, causing delayed payments and slower growth. The IEA said that potential project cancellations and protracted contract negotiations over renewable energy price can hurt adoption.
Globally, the IEA expects renewable power growth to slow slightly due to supply chain bottlenecks and rising costs of raw materials.
A total of 319 GW capacity is set to be added this year, with another 317 GW expected in 2023. That will be the first slowdown of growth in at least a decade.