About 27% of 3.28 million sq. km of India’s landmass is classified as degraded landmass and this is 10 times enough to meet 2022 RE goals, according to a study by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Centre for Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP). According to authors, the total land footprint needed to meet India’s 2022 RE target would be between 55,000 sq. km to 1,25,000 sq. km.
Addressing the UN general assembly, the Prime Minister of India expressed India’s plans to go beyond 175 GW installed capacity and set a new target of 450 GW. Although time line to achieve this herculean target is not stated, it is expected to be achieved by 2030. One of the obstacles to achieve the country’s renewable energy target is the availability of land. Many wind and solar energy developers have suffered from cost overruns mainly because of the challenges involved in acquiring land. Growth of rooftop solar has been slow in India and solar development to date largely consists of ground mounted solar. Therefore, the government should be able to quantify availability of appropriate land for development of renewable energy projects in the country.
Potential solution on land constraints could be:
- Most of the leased land used for wind projects could be returned for its original use after the wind plant is decommissioned.
- Offshore wind mills eliminate footprint on land.
- Agrivoltaics or raised solar PV that allows agriculture in partial shades.
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