Climate change to impact India’s solar, wind energy potential: Study

The analysis could turn out to be a setback for India’s ambitious renewable energy targets.
For representational purposes. (File Photo | AP)
For representational purposes. (File Photo | AP)

NEW DELHI: Climate change is expected to impact India’s future renewable energy production with a study showing that the renewable energy fields of solar and wind potential in India are likely to face a negative trend in the future, said an analysis by scientists from the Ministry of Earth Sciences.

The analysis could turn out to be a setback for India’s ambitious renewable energy targets. Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the CoP26 Glasgow climate change conference last year pledged that India will achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2070 and that India’s 50 per cent energy requirement by 2030 will be met through non-fossil fuels.

The scientists at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Pune, and Center for Prototype Climate Modeling, New York University, Abu Dhabi analysed the future wind and solar energy potential over the Indian landmass using climate model ensembles.

The analyses reveal that, in the future, seasonal and annual wind speed is likely to decrease over North India and increase in South India. On the other hand, solar radiation is estimated to decrease over the next 50 years during all seasons. It is further said that the challenges posed by climate change can be overcome by including more farms and using highly efficient power generators than those available at present.

“With the estimated decrease in future wind and solar potential, expanded and more efficient networks of wind and solar farms are needed to increase renewable energy production. Therefore, investors in this sector should understand and consider possible changes due to climate change,” said the analysis, published in the Current Science journal on the June 10 edition.

The future potential of wind and solar energy over the Indian subcontinent is analysed using ensembles of climate models. The climate simulations for the past 55 years and future projections for 55 years are considered from six models for the analysis.

“Regional analysis of wind potential indicates that the frequency of high energy-producing wind speeds will decrease, whereas low energy-producing wind speeds are likely to increase in the future. In the solar potential regional analysis, future projections predict a shift in the frequency of solar radiation in the negative direction, implying that solar energy production will decrease in the immediate future. This can be attributed to the increase in total cloud cover,” it said.

The Indian subcontinent receives maximum solar radiation during the pre-monsoon months and minimum during the winter months. Except for the pre-monsoon months, north-western India, where the maximum number of solar farms are located, showed reduced future projections of solar radiation throughout the year.

The only regions which showed an increase in future solar projections were Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The models showed that the future solar radiation would reduce all over the country.

The southern coast of Odisha and the southern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu show promising potential for wind energy in the climate change scenario. The seasonal analysis indicates that the southern and northwestern regions of the country will have higher wind speeds in the winter and monsoon months when the wind potential is maximum.

Solar projections for the future indicate that solar radiation will decrease during all seasons over most of the active solar farming regions. For future investments in the solar power sector, central and south-central India must be considered during pre-monsoon months, as the potential loss is minimum in these regions.

“As climate change is expected to impact both wind and solar potential in the future, there is a requirement for proper documentation of the results from climate model simulations. This will help the investors in this sector to carefully plan their investments, which are expected to significantly increase in the next 30–40 years in the Indian region,” it added.

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