According to a new study done by scientists at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) in Pune, climate change is projected to negatively damage India’s solar and wind energy potential over the next 50 years, posing a significant challenge to the country’s ambitious quest for renewable energy.
The future forecasts are critical as India embarks on a drive to meet up to 50% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2030. Prime Minister Narendra Modi made one of the most audacious new commitments at COP26 Glasgow last November, vowing to increase the country’s renewable energy capacity to 500 GW, with 300 GW coming from solar energy projects.
Loss of Solar Potential
Solar potential is expected to drop over the majority of the Indian landmass in the near future, according to a recent study published in the journal Current Science. Solar radiation is expected to drop by 10–15 Wm–2 during all seasons during the next 50 years, according to future forecasts. While the reasons for this may vary, an increase in total cloud cover is thought to be a significant influence in reducing solar radiation frequency.
Except for the pre-monsoon months, when it suffers from a hot summer, north-western India, where the majority of solar farms are located, saw a decrease in sun radiation throughout the year. The only locations where future sun projections increased were Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand. According to the researchers, pre-monsoon months in central and south-central India may be more favourable for future investment in the solar power sector because the potential loss is lower.
The researchers utilised a combination of global and regional climate models to look at renewable energy trends over the last five decades and predict how they would be available in the future over the Indian subcontinent. The future trends were determined using a variety of climate scenario projections published by the IPCC in its most recent report.
Loss of Wind Potential
The majority of India’s wind energy comes from the southwest monsoon, whereas solar energy comes from the pre-monsoon season. The wind potential over India is anticipated to be altered by the warming of the Indian Ocean, according to previous climate study.
While the analysis revealed a clear trend of declining wind energy potential overall, there were significant regional and seasonal variances. Seasonal and yearly wind speeds increased across South India while decreasing over North India.
According to the study, onshore locations will still perform better in the climate change scenario, particularly the southern coast of Odisha and the southern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, which have shown remarkable potential for wind generation. According to the seasonal analysis, the country’s southern and north-western regions would experience increased wind speeds throughout the winter and monsoon months, when the wind potential is at its peak. However, the offshore regions’ wind potential is projected to decrease during non-monsoon months.
Furthermore, the wind potential revealed that high energy-producing wind speeds will become less frequent in the future, while low energy-producing wind speeds will certainly grow.
Climate Smart Strategies
In order to contain climate change, it is essential to venture into renewable energy sources and reduce reliability on fossil fuels. In this view the country needs to adapt climate-smart strategies to ensure that the maximum renewable energy potential is met. For this purpose, the findings of such studies need to be viewed as a “possibility rather than certainty”, in the words of the authors of the study.