India to invest $1.61 billion in grid integration in efforts to reach net zero


India’s cabinet approved the second phase of the Green Energy Corridor, with a budget of Rs 12,031 crore, to help grid integration and power evacuation for around 20 GW of renewable energy projects across seven states.

According to an official statement, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the scheme on Green Energy Corridor (GEC) Phase-II for Intra-State Transmission System (InSTS) for addition of approximately 10,750 circuit kilometers (ckm) of transmission lines and approx. 27,500 Mega Volt-Amperes (MVA) transformation capacity of substations.

The second phase would be executed between the fiscal years 2021-22 and 2025-26, according to Union Minister Anurag Thakur, who announced the decision.

According to the minister, 80% of phase one work has been finished. The first phase's budget was Rs 10,142 crore.

The program is expected to help India achieve 450 GW of installed renewable energy capacity by 2030.

At Cop26 in Glasgow, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a slew of new climate targets, with a commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2070.

PM Modi raised India's renewable energy and economic carbon intensity targets, while also urging developed countries to support developing countries with more financial aids.

By 2030, he predicted, 50% of the country’s energy will come from renewable sources. In 2016, India set a target of 40% by 2030, which was nearly met in June 2021.

Modi vowed that by 2030, India would have reduced its carbon intensity by 45%, up from the previous target of 33% set in 2016.

The prime minister stated that India's overall carbon emissions would be reduced by 1 billion tonnes by 2030.

According to climate analysts in India, although the announcement represented a significant rise in ambition, some targets needed to be clarified, such as India's goal of "fulfilling 50% of its energy requirements from renewable energy sources by 2030.”

"It is not conceivable to achieve 50% renewable energy by 2030," said Swati D'Souza, research head for climate action at the National Foundation for India. She claimed Modi misspoke and that the objective was set for electricity generation rather than energy.

"If that's the objective, it's time for India to close coal mines," D'Souza said. "The time has come, and the time is now," she added, noting that traditionally, coal regions have taken 40-50 years to phase out the fossil fuel.

According to a report by the Council on Energy, Environment, and Water, India will require 5,900 GW of solar power to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

India has been engaging in several projects in recent months to enhance its renewable energy deployment. One of these is a collaboration with the United States to speed up the deployment of clean energy.

In November 2021, Modi and Prime Minister Boris Johnson jointly unveiled a green grids initiative, aiming at accelerating the integration of solar and wind power into grids across continents by connecting energy-rich places like deserts and coastlines with urban centers.

A ministerial steering group composed of France, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States will oversee the grids initiative.

With an aim to "connect the world's solar energy via one grid," the initiative is critical to accelerate India's clean energy transition, said Asif Bhamla, a government spokesman.

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