Reaching 50% energy from renewables by 2030

During the last COP events (COP 26 and COP 27) India stepped up its climate ambitions and announced a goal of reaching net-zero by the year 2070. More specifically its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) includes  to achieve about 50 percent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030.

In December 2022 Tamil Nadu launched its own Climate Change Mission. Its goals include the development of strategies to cut emissions by using green and renewable energy. This complements an earlier announcement by the State Government, that it aims to add an additional 20 GW of solar energy by the year 2030.

More recently, in March 2023, the Tamil Nadu Governments announced that it will target that 50% of all energy will be sourced from renewable energy sources. If the state where to meet this target it would firmly establish itself as a climate leader on the national and international stage. Further, Tamil Nadu aspires to be a leading export state and as there is increasing international supply chain pressures for industries to reduce their carbon emissions  accelerating the transition towards a renewable energy can help its industries to stay competitive in a decarbonizing world. An accelerated energy transition will also promote Tamil Nadu as an attractive location for industries.

In FY 2021-22 the total energy generated was 1,17,553 million units (MU). Renewable energy, this is solar, wind, bioenergy, and hydro, accounted for a 22% of the total energy generation in FY 2021-22. Coal power with a share of 70% is the single largest energy sources. This total energy generation can be subdivided into two parts, (i) energy procured by TANGEDCO and (ii) energy under Open Access. TANGEDCO accounted for 83% or 97,297 MU of energy in FY 2021-22. Whereas the remaining 17% of 20,266 MU are on account of Open Access.

Interestingly TANGEDO procured only 16% of its energy from renewables. Whereas 52% of all energy under Open Access is RE. 51% of all energy procured by TANGEDCO came from either TANGEDCO owned or Centra owned coal power plants. The actual share of coal power may be higher as there is 24% of energy that was sourced under the category ‘Short term and others’ and this may primarily be coal power.

To meet the 2030 RE target an additional 60,637 MU of RE will need to be generated in 2030. This represents approximately an addition of 28 GW of wind energy capacity or a 32 GW of solar energy capacity and means that in the next six years starting with FY 2023-24 approximately 4.80– 5.50 GW of renewable energy capacity needs to go on-grid. The average annual RE capacity addition in Tamil Nadu from 2018 to 2023 was 1.21 GW.

Meeting the 50% RE target will require a concerted effort by all major power sector institutions and players including the distribution licensee, the Electricity Regulatory Commission, the Energy Department, Independent Power producers and the consumers/prosumers. The state would do well to develop an overarching energy policy that aligns policy targets with operations and sets a clear and concise long-term vision for the state’s power sector and its decarbonization pathway.

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