Renewable Energy Potential in India

Renewable energy is growing rapidly in India. The Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) estimates that there is a potential of around 90,000 MW for power generation from different renewable energy sources in the country, including 48,561 MW of wind power, 14,294 MW of small hydro power and 26,367 MW of biomass. In addition, the potential for solar energy is estimated for most parts of the country at around 20 MW per square kilometer of open, shadow free area covered with solar collectors, which would add up to a minimum of 657 GW of installed capacity.

Solar Energy

Because of its location between the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator, India has an average annual temperature that ranges from 25°C – 27.5 °C. This means that India has huge solar energy potential. About 5,000 trillion kWh per year energy is incident over India’s land area with most parts receiving 4-7 kWh per sq. m per day. Hence both technology routes for conversion of solar radiation into heat and electricity, namely, solar thermal and solar photovoltaic, can effectively be harnessed providing huge scalability for solar in India.

Solar also provides the ability to generate power on a distributed basis and enables rapid capacity addition with short lead times. Off-grid decentralized and low-temperature applications will be advantageous from a rural electrification perspective and meeting other energy needs for power and heating and cooling in both rural and urban areas.

Wind Energy

Wind power in India has been concentrated in a few regions, especially the southern state of Tamil Nadu, which maintains its position as the state with the most wind power, with 4.1 GW installed at the end of 2008, representing 44% of India’s total wind capacity. Wind energy is continuing to grow steadily in India as states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Karnataka, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh are making great progress, partly driven by new policy measures. Wind farms can be seen under construction all across the country, from the coastal plains to the hilly hinterland and sandy deserts.

Biomass Energy

Biomass includes solid biomass (organic, non-fossil material of biological origins), biogas (principally methane and carbon dioxide produced by anaerobic digestion of biomass and combusted to produce heat and/or power), liquid biofuels (bio-based liquid fuel from biomass transformation, mainly used in transportation applications), and municipal waste (wastes produced by the residential, commercial and public services sectors and incinerated in specific installations to produce heat and/or power).

The most successful forms of biomass are sugar cane bagasse in agriculture, pulp and paper residues in forestry and manure in livestock residues. India is very rich in biomass. It has a potential of 19,500 MW (3,500 MW from bagasse-based cogeneration and 16,000 MW from surplus biomass). Currently, India has 537 MW commissioned and 536 MW under construction. The facts reinforce the idea of a commitment by India to develop these resources of power production.

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Salman Zafar is the Founder of Cleantech Solutions, and an international consultant, advisor and trainer with expertise in waste management, biomass energy, waste-to-energy, environment protection and resource conservation. His geographical areas of focus include Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Salman has successfully accomplished a wide range of projects in the areas of biogas technology, biomass energy, waste-to-energy, recycling and waste management. Salman has participated in numerous national and international conferences all over the world. He is a prolific environmental journalist, and has authored more than 300 articles in reputed journals, magazines and websites. In addition, he is proactively engaged in creating mass awareness on renewable energy, waste management and environmental sustainability through his blogs and portals. Salman can be reached at or

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