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Report on land-use for renewable energy in India

Context:

Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) released a report named Renewable Energy and Land Use in India by Mid-Century.

Relevance:

GS-III: Industry and Infrastructure (Solar Energy, Renewable Energy, Growth & Development, Energy Security)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the “Renewable Energy and Land Use in India by Mid-Century” report
  2. Way Forwards suggested by the report

About the “Renewable Energy and Land Use in India by Mid-Century” report

  • The report “Renewable Energy and Land Use in India by Mid-Century” suggested that careful planning today can maximise the benefits and minimise the costs of India’s history-making energy transition.
  • It said that India will use significant stretches of land by 2050 to install renewable energy generation capacities. Around 50,000-75,000 square kilometres of land will be used in 2050 for solar energy generation and for an additional 15,000-20,000 sq km for wind energy projects.
  • The resulting land cover changes, including indirect effects, will likely cause a net release of carbon up to 50 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour (gCO2 / kwh).
  • Land use for renewable energy may put a pressure on a variety of ecosystems. Generally the terms zero impact areas, barren land, unused land or the official designation of wasteland imply that such areas have no value.
  • The amount of carbon release will depend on the region, scale of expansion, solar technology efficiency and land management practices at solar parks.
  • According to the report- in India, electricity generation has to compete with alternative uses for land such as agriculture, urbanisation, human habitation and nature conservation, unlike Europe or the US.

Way Forwards suggested by the report

  • Optimising the size of land used, its location and impact on human habitation, agriculture and conservation of natural resources to reduce environmental damage.
  • Minimising total land-use requirements for renewable energy by promoting offshore wind, rooftop solar and solar on water bodies.
  • Identification and assessment of land for renewable generation by limiting undue regional concentration and developing environmental and social standards for rating potential sites.
  • Policy makers and planners should exclude ONE (Open Natural Ecosystems (ONE), classified as wastelands, covered around 10% of India’s land surface) with high density habitats when considering location of renewable energy projects.
  • Attention on Indian agri-voltaics sector — securing benefits to farmers and incentivising agri voltaics uptake where crops, soils and conditions are suitable and yields can be maintained or improved.

-Source: Down to Earth Magazine

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December 2022
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