The track record of India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) was variously slammed as “disappointing”, “dismal” and “frustrating” in a damning report by a committee of the country’s parliament, which warned the nation could miss its flagship 175GW renewables target for 2022.
MNRE, which oversees deployment of wind, solar and other renewables in India, was told by the Energy Committee of the Lok Sabha to fix weaknesses in its performance “without any further delay” following a series of missed annual capacity goals.
India is supposed to have 175GW of renewables in place by the end of 2022, but the committee said with “continuous non-achievement of the assigned yearly physical targets, the Ministry may find it difficult to achieve [that figure]”.
“The committee are highly dissatisfied with the performance of the ministry and expect the ministry to improve its target achievement in the coming year,” said a report tabled with the parliament.
The verdict means the legislators join a chorus of sceptics including financial analysts and industry commentators who have cast doubt on India’s ability to meet the 2022 target, a flagship policy of the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
According to figures submitted by MNRE, India fell short of grid connected renewables targets by 18% and 45% in 2017/18 and 2018/19. In the 2019/20 year to January, 8GW has been installed against a target of 11.8GW. “Such performances are disappointing,” said the parliamentary report.
India had 37.6GW of wind installed by the end of January against a 60GW 2022 target, said the committee. Just under 2GW of a 2019/20 3GW goal was in place by January of the current year. The MNRE had been “miserably short” of its wind installation goals for the last two years, a performance the committee labelled “highly frustrating”.
The ministry should avoid unnecessary changes that have the potential to send a well-functioning sector into a downward spiral.
The legislators on the committee highlighted changes to the support regime in 2017 from feed-in tariffs to competitive tendering. “The committee feel that the ministry should avoid those unnecessary changes that have the potential to send a well-functioning sector into a downward spiral.”
The National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE), the specialist agency for the sector under NIWE, has been allocated meagre funds and is in a “pathetic condition”, according to the committee.
In solar, with 34GW installed against a 100GW 2022 target, MNRE has a “huge task” to commission the rest in two and a half years, said the report, adding that the committee is “sceptical” about MNRE assurances it can make it.
The committee is particularly “distressed” over the “dismal performance” of the MNRE in rooftop solar.
Some of the report’s most stinging criticism is reserved for delays to India’s Green Energy Corridor transmission project connecting key renewable states.
“Successively increasing physical targets and reducing financial allocations reflect poorly on the planning and execution of the project as well as the seriousness of the ministry. The ministry should eschew playing ducks and drakes with an important project like Green Energy Corridor.”