Net-zero by 2050, India Needs Clean Energy Installation on Land Size of Bihar

Net-zero by 2050, India Needs Clean Energy Installation on Land Size of Bihar
22/09/2021 , by , in ALLIED

If India were to implement a net-zero target by 2050, an area of at least about 65,000 sq km – equivalent to about half the size of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu – is required for large-scale installation of solar and wind power, a latest report has found.

The study by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis estimated that solar and wind power infrastructure could together occupy 65,000 sq km to 95,000 sq km of land, which is 1.97%-2.88% of India’s total landmass of 32.8 lakh sq km. To put it in perspective, 95,000 sq km of land is equivalent to the size of Bihar.

The report notes the potential for land-use conflict that can arise over renewable energy installations, even in sparsely populated areas, slowing the rollout of infrastructure across the country. A country can be considered net-zero when its greenhouse gas emissions are sequestered either through natural or artificial carbon sinks. According to the United Nations, the entire world has to achieve net-zero emission by 2050 to limit the global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. India is under tremendous pressure to announce its own net-zero targets but it has resisted it so far.

The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis report said that “whether or not India commits to a formal mid-century net-zero emissions goal this year, it will continue adding very substantial solar and wind generation capacity over the next three decades”. It emphasised that part of this capacity “will replace thermal generation, but some will be required to meet population and economic growth”.

The report considered the land-use implications of India’s energy transition and the important choices about where these resources should be located. It reviewed current land-use studies and then outlines likely future requirements based on the mid-century scenarios presented in recent reports by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, The Energy and Resources Institute and Shell and the International Energy Agency.

India has ambitious energy transition targets to push for large scale adoption of clean energy. It plans to install a capacity of 175 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2022 and 450 GW by 2030. However, as the rooftop solar sector has failed to take off, the focus of the Indian government has been on large solar and wind power projects – a move against which experts are expressing concerns due to its potential impact on the affected communities and biodiversity.


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