India is taking big green leaps to meet its Paris Agreement obligations
In Western countries, India is often heard of as a major climate sinner, but this view of India is a thing of the past. Actually, India is undergoing a revolution in the field of green – energy. India is breaking records, exceeding targets and making cheap clean energy into a reality. Very few experts expected that India would be able to live up to its important commitments in the Paris Agreement. One commitment is a promise to increase the share of non-fossil fuel production capacity to 40% by 2030. Already today, India has fulfilled 38% of this promise by converting production capacity to use hydropower and nuclear sources. This transition is helping to put India on the right track, so that it can not only meet its goals in the Paris Agreement, but also exceed them.
The second commitment is to reduce carbon emissions by 33 to 35 percent (from 2005 levels) by 2030. Today, India looks likely to reduce emissions by as much as 45 percent by 2030, far exceeding its Paris Agreement target.
India has set its own ambitious goals for renewable energy – and exceeds them too. India’s fossil fuel production capacity is currently around 230 gigawatts (GW), of which 205 GW comes from coal. In 2015 Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced plans to build 175 GW of new renewable energy capacity by 2022. This announcement was met with skepticism in many places, as India at the time only had a production capacity using 34 GW of renewable energy. According to Amitabh Kant, CEO of the government’s political think tank NITI Aayog, India has already installed 89 GW of renewable power capacity and will reach Modi’s 175 GW target as planned.
The huge and deadly pollution in India’s major cities, along with the threat of the devastating effects on the climate along with the threat of big bills for energy imports, have all influenced Modi to further raise efforts. This was expressed at the UN summit in September 2019, where Modi announced that he has set a new target of 450 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030.
Furthermore, the 36 political parties represented in the Indian Parliament almost unanimously agreed that India should impose a tax on coal production equivalent to $ 6 per ton. India’s clean energy initiatives are gaining momentum thanks to global advances in green technology. It is especially wind power, energy storage and solar energy. These technologies are evolving exponentially and have entered a good cycle: when the prices of these technologies are falling, the demand for them rises, and when the production is expanded to meet the demand, the prices fall even more, all helping to speed up the adoption.
In 2008, the modules used in solar panels cost $ 3.65 per. watt; by 2018, the figure had dropped to below 40 cents. In India that year, solar energy production crossed an important threshold and became cheaper than coal. Rapidly declining costs have enabled India to increase its solar energy production more than ten times since 2015.
India made green history this year and broke not one but two records. In January, it implemented the world’s largest supply of renewable energy, which no longer requires fossil fuel backup. With a level-calculated first-year cost of 2.90 rupees ($ 0.04) per Kilowatt hour it will be among the world’s lowest rate for uninterrupted renewable energy – which finally makes the production and storage of clean energy cheaper than burning coal.