BloombergNEF: Accelerated deployment of clean technologies is essential if India is to reach its 2047 AatmaNirbhar Bharat energy independence goal.
- BNEF report shows that India can dramatically reduce fossil fuel imports, while strengthening energy access. This is the cheapest way for the country to increase electricity access while decarbonizing its power supply.
- BNEF’s least-cost modeling suggests India’s emissions in 2030 could be lower than what India’s current National Determined Contributions implies.
- Managing India’s growing industrial emissions will be key in strengthening the country’s energy security and safeguarding global climate targets.
New Delhi, August 24, 2023 – India’s transition to a net-zero economy by 2050 presents an investment opportunity that amounts to at least $12.7 trillion, according to the New Energy Outlook: India report, published today by research company BloombergNEF. The report details two scenarios for India’s energy system and the implications of the country’s transition opportunities and challenges. The base case Economic Transition Scenario, or ETS, describes an economics-led transition, consistent with a global temperature rise of 2.6 degrees Celsius by 2050. Under this scenario, the country makes significant progress toward energy independence and decarbonization but does not achieve either goal by 2050. The second, the Net Zero Scenario (NZS), envisages enhanced government support and private sector investment. It is consistent with net-zero emissions by 2050 with no reliance on unproven technologies. It also enables India to achieve its mid-century energy independence goal at the lowest cost.
India is already making progress on power sector decarbonization
India, in part due to its world-leading clean energy auction programs, added 53 gigawatts of solar and wind between 2018 and 2022, of which 16 gigawatts of utility-scale solar was installed in 2022 alone. Yet, solar and wind still account for less than a quarter of the power generation capacity, with coal dominating the rest. As a result, India’s electricity generation remains the country’s largest source of emissions. BNEF’s analysis finds that maximizing deployment of solar and wind, supplemented by additions of nuclear, energy storage and carbon capture and storage (CCS) for thermal power plants, is the cheapest way for India to increase electricity access while decarbonizing its power supply.
New wind and solar power plants in India have already achieved a lower levelized cost of electricity generation than new thermal power plants. The cost of electricity generation from new solar and wind power plants will become cheaper than the running cost of existing coal plants by mid 2030s.
In the NZS, the total installed capacity of wind and solar power undergoes a 30-fold expansion, from 99 gigawatts in 2021 to 2,998 gigawatts by 2050. Together, wind and solar generation account for 80% of electricity supplied in 2050, while nuclear provides 9%. The remainder is met by hydro, biomass, hydrogen fired thermal plants and thermal power plants equipped with CCS. Even under the ETS, BNEF’s baseline scenario, least-cost power system modeling shows that solar and wind become the dominant source of electricity supply, accounting for 67% of electricity generated in 2050.
“India needs to double down on increasing flexibility in the grid to integrate the large capacities of variable wind and solar,” said Rohit Gadre, India Research Senior Associate at BNEF. “Our modeling shows that multiple solutions can co-exist, including batteries, pumped hydro storage, and peaker gas plants.”
India’s transition to a net-zero economy is an investment opportunity amounting to at least $12.7 trillion
Under the ETS, investment in energy supply and demand reaches $7.6 trillion over 2022-2050, an annual average of $262 billion. To stay on track for net zero, according to BNEF’s NZS, investment levels are 1.7 times higher, for an annual average of $438 billion (equal to about 5% of expected gross domestic product) and a total of $12.7 trillion to 2050. Total investment in fossil-fuel power drops from $317 billion in the ETS to $142 billion in the NZS. To abate emissions from the remaining use of fossil fuels in the NZS, India needs $870 billion in investment for CCS. Electric vehicle sales account for the largest share of investment for energy demand in both scenarios. In the NZS, $3.9 trillion is spent deploying EVs.
“Transitioning to a zero-emission vehicle fleet by 2050 will require bold policy efforts by the state and national governments. Falling battery costs are set to accelerate EV adoption post-2030 which will also spur local manufacturing from automobile and battery makers,” said Komal Kareer, India Research Associate at BNEF.
“India can all but eliminate dependence on fossil fuel imports by 2047, its centennial,” said Shantanu Jaiswal, Head of India Research at BNEF. “By accelerating deployment of mature clean technologies such as solar, wind and electric vehicles, India could create more domestic economic opportunities while reducing emissions and strengthening its energy security.”
Hydrogen and CCS will be critical to tackling growing industrial emissions
Under the ETS, India’s industrial CO2 emissions are set to surpass the power sector by the early 2040s, driven by the growth of steel, aluminum, petrochemical and cement sectors. Steel, which is India’s largest emitting industrial subsector, sees emissions almost triple between 2021 and 2050 from 351 million tons of carbon dioxide (MtCO2) to 948MtCO2. Coal consumption in steelmaking sees a similar growth, reaching 399 million metric tons of coal by mid-century. Coal use in the cement industry also grows fivefold to 83Mt of coal by 2050 compared to 2021. Emissions from the cement sector thus rise by five times and reach 289 MtCO2 by mid-century.
Green hydrogen and CCS will be key in decarbonizing the industrial sector and eliminating those emissions. BNEF NZS shows that 54% of cumulative emissions abatement can come from use of clean hydrogen in making steel between 2022 and 2050. Similarly, CCS helps eliminate 56% of the cumulative emissions from cement production.
Under the NZS, India’s industrial sector emissions peak in 2031 and begin a steep decline in the mid-2030s as the use of hydrogen and carbon capture increases to decarbonize steel, cement and petrochemical production. Domestic demand for hydrogen increases about tenfold, to 53MtH2 by 2050. New demand for hydrogen is driven by rapid adoption of hydrogen-fired direct-reduction furnaces in the steel industry, taking the demand to 33MtH2 in 2050. Currently, most of the hydrogen in India is produced from unabated fossil fuels. By 2050, hydrogen produced with flexible grid-connected electrolyzers powered primarily by renewables becomes the dominant pathway in India under the NZS.
India’s current Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) implies energy related emissions in 2030 would be 31% higher than 2019 levels. Under BNEF’s ETS, India’s energy related emissions in 2030 would be 22% above 2019 levels, suggesting India may very well do better than its current NDC implies. BNEF’s NZS requires India’s 2030 energy related emissions to be 9% below 2019 levels, hence the need for accelerated deployment of mature clean technologies.
This research forms part of a series of regional and sector reports diving deeper into results from BloombergNEF’s global New Energy Outlook, including reports for Europe, Australia, China, Japan, the US and India. Report summaries are available at about.bnef.com/new-energy-outlook-series.
Bloomberg is a global leader in business and financial information, delivering trusted data, news, and insights that bring transparency, efficiency, and fairness to markets. The company helps connect influential communities across the global financial ecosystem via reliable technology solutions that enable our customers to make more informed decisions and foster better collaboration. For more information, visit Bloomberg.com/company or request a demo.