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Maharashtra: Wind, solar energy potential to be hit by climate change, say IITM researchers

Updated on: 17 August,2022 08:25 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Dipti Singh |

In Maharashtra, projection for solar energy sees a dip, but wind a slight uptick; experts say need bigger, more efficient network of renewable energy farms

Maharashtra: Wind, solar energy potential to be hit by climate change, say IITM researchers

Maharashtra currently has a solar power capacity of 2.75 GW. File pic

Climate change is projected to negatively damage India’s as well as Maharashtra’s solar and wind energy potential over the next five decades, posing a substantial obstacle to the country’s ambitious quest for renewable energy, said researchers from the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) in Pune. They added bigger and more efficient networks of wind and solar farms are required to improve renewable energy output.

Citing that it is essential to reduce reliability on fossil fuels, researchers suggested that India needs to adapt climate-smart strategies to ensure that the maximum renewable energy potential is met, and added that the findings of such studies need to be viewed as a “possibility rather than certainty”.

The study, titled ‘Analysis of future wind and solar potential over India using climate models’, authored by TS Anandh, Deepa Gopalakrishnan, Parthasarathi Mukhopadhyay, researchers from the Ministry of Earth Sciences and the Centre For Prototype Climate Modelling, New York University, Abu Dhabi, UAE, was published in peer-reviewed journal Current Science.

The findings

IITM researchers carried out the study by using various state-of-the-art climate models to analyse the wind and solar projections for the renewable energy sector in the Indian subcontinent for the next 40 years. “The efficiency of renewable energy may be impacted by climate change in Maharashtra and the neighbouring areas. The study emphasises the importance of being prepared for scenarios of this kind and addressing it,” said Mukhopadhyay. “The projections of solar energy potential for the future over western and central India, including Maharashtra, show a strong negative trend in the immediate future and thus build the need, therefore, to prepare better around it becomes important.”

The researchers said in the case of wind potential, Maharashtra and surrounding regions show a positive trend in most of the climate models. “The monsoon months are projected to be more windy and cloudy in the coming years. This region also records positive potential in the future but it is not to the same extent as the rest of central India,” Mukhopadhyay added.

Current status

Maharashtra currently ranks at the top among states in terms of installed renewable energy capacity (10.78 GW) with the wind power capacity of 5.01 GW and solar power capacity of 2.75 GW, and second in the race for decentralised renewable energy. As of June 30, renewable energy makes up 24.36 per cent of the state’s power mix. The state accounts for 15 per cent of India’s wind energy potential.

The state has also launched an initiative to build new solar plants across districts to produce 12 GW of renewable energy over the course of the next six years with the goal of increasing the amount of available power and lowering power purchase costs in the future. Maharashtra aims to generate 40 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, according to the state’s Unconventional Energy Generation Policy released in January 2021.  According to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Maharashtra’s installed solar capacity expanded by 614 per cent between 2016 and 2021, from 385.76 MW in 2016 to 2753.30 MW in 2022.

Expert Speak

Dr Anjal Prakash, research director and adjunct associate professor with the Bharti Institute of Public Policy at the Indian School of Business, said, “This is a very important study that shows the future potential of solar and wind energy. It can be very handy for policy and business decisions. However, I would like to point out that the interesting challenge is to have decentralised harnessing of both solar and wind energy.” In Parliament on August 2, Union minister R K Singh said the Centre is taking action to raise the effectiveness of wind and solar power facilities by funding research and development.

10.78 GW
Installed renewable energy capacity of Maharashtra

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