India after COP21: Goals and accomplishments

Geetanjali Prasad
June 27, 2017

The Paris summit in December 2015 was a historic turning point in the effort to fight climate change. At the event, 195 countries pledged their combined force to limit the increase of average global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

India, the fourth largest carbon emitter in the world, has made its role clear in the movement, by making a bold commitment to reduce its emissions by 33–35 percent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.

This would mean a target of

  • 40 percent of total energy demand from non-fossil fuel sources by 2022. Out of 175 GW of renewable energy generation, 100 GW will be from solar, 60 GW from wind, 10 GW from biomass and 5 GW from hydro power.
  • 33 percent forest cover, up from the current 24 percent.
  • Almost 3 billion tons of reduction in carbon by 2030.

Smart Cities and LEED

For a population of 1.25 billion, several urban and sustainable development projects are being undertaken, such as the 100 Smart Cities Project and National Solar Mission.

With more than 50 percent of infrastructure projects yet to be built, and a considerable portion of natural resources consumed by construction alone, green buildings will form an integral part of the smart cities plan. Although various state governments are formulating policies for incentivizing the development of green buildings in India, LEED, as the globally recognized benchmark in green building rating, will play an important role in implementing the rigorous parameters for minimizing the impact of emissions and catapulting business growth.

Clean energy

Moving to renewable energy sources, however, will mean a significant shift from coal, currently contributing to more than 60 percent of the power demand in the country.

According to the government’s latest National Electricity Plan, there will be no new thermal power plants built until 2027, except those that are already under construction. The proposal will mean 53 percent power generation from non-fossil sources as early as 2027, as measured against the target of 40 percent by 2030, without any international support.

Also, with the falling tariffs in the Indian renewable sector, private developers are latching onto this opportunity to build projects incorporating clean energy sources, such as solar and wind. The contract for the world’s largest solar power park, at Rewa in Madhya Pradesh, was won by Mahindra Renewables, ACME Solar Holdings and Sweden’s Solenergi Power, at a record low of less than 3KW/ hour

Giving a boost to India’s National Solar Mission, the project will supply the bulk of the power within Madhya Pradesh during peak demand hours and fulfill Delhi Metro’s daytime requirement, which has also embraced LEED for Transit, a real-time digital performance platform.

Here are some more accomplishments and goals for energy in India:

  • In the financial year 2017, capacity addition from renewable energy sources surpassed conventional sources for the first time.
  • India added 12.5 GW of renewable energy capacity, compared to 10.2 GW from conventional sources of fuel.
  • A record 5,400 MW of wind power from 2016–2017 exceeded its 4,000 MW target.
  • Plans are under way to make the growing electric demand of Indian railways engines of green growth. The move will not only lower energy bills, but also advance the country’s climate goals. Railways hope to meet 25 percent of their power need from renewables, with 5 GW of solar energy, by 2025.
  • The National Offshore Wind Energy Policy has been developed to harness wind power along India’s 7,600 km coastline.
  • Rural Electrification Corp. has plans to raise $1.5 billion for clean energy projects.
  • As per the government’s national policy, mini- and micro-grids will be deployed in the next five years, with at least 10,000 renewable energy projects in the "unserved and underserved" parts of the country. 

With such initiatives being drafted and put into force, India is well on its path to achieve tremendous sustainable growth, while also tackling its demographic and economic challenges.