Renewable Energy – Wind, Tidal, Geothermal, etc.

Heat affects India’s aim to move from coal to renewables


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Heatwave;

Mains level: Climate Change; Heatwave;

Why in the News? 

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) recently said that India will have more than the ‘usual’ number of days with heat waves in this summer.

Increasing Temperature in India and its impact as per IMD:

  • Temperature Predictions: The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) predicts “above-normal” temperatures for April-June 2024, with a probability of 55%-65% in one half of the country and over 65% in the other half. Few parts are expected to have normal or below-normal temperatures.
  • Effect of Heat on Agriculture: Higher heat negatively impacts crop yield, agricultural workers’ productivity, and water availability, varying in degree depending on the crop.
  • Consequences of Heat in Urban Area: Increased heat leads to higher power demand in urban and industrial centers, poses deadly risks for outdoor workers (such as at construction sites), overwhelms health service providers (especially affecting the very young and old), and highlights the importance of access to clean, cool water, indoor ventilation, and bathrooms.
  • Power Demand: The availability of power is crucial for addressing the effects of heat. A chart shows that in March 2024, the average evening peak-hour demand reached a new high of 190 GW.

Major challenges around the Energy Demand and Government Targets:

  • Government Targets: The government aims to achieve 500 GW of power generation capacity from renewable energy sources by 2030. Additionally, it has committed to producing 50% of its power from non-fossil fuel energy sources by the same year.
  • Heat increases power demand: Heat boosts power demand in cities and industries, heightens risks for outdoor labor, strains healthcare services for vulnerable groups, and underscores the necessity of clean water, ventilation, and bathrooms. Power availability is fundamental for addressing these challenges.
  • Focus on Solar Power: A substantial portion of the renewable energy addition will come from solar power. However, due to the intermittent nature of solar output and the ongoing establishment of power storage capacity, coal is still relied upon to meet peak demand.
  • Coal’s Dominance: Chart 3 (above) illustrates the gross electricity generated using coal in India and coal’s share in total electricity generation. The coal’s share has remained between 70-74% since at least FY16.
  • Commercially Viable Energy Storage: In India, the most commercially viable energy storage forms currently are battery-based and Pumped Hydro Storage (PHS).
  • Renewable Energy Generation: Chart 4 depicts the gross electricity generated using renewable sources in India and the share of renewable sources in total electricity generation. The share of renewables, including solar, hydro, wind, etc., has remained between 20-25% since at least FY16

Major Dilemma For India: Cannot ignore Coal immediately:

  • Coal is projected to continue as the backbone of the Indian energy system until the next two decades and its phase-down will require active policies on critical minerals, according to a report by the Indian Institute of Management (IIM)- Ahmedabad.
  • The report, titled ‘Synchronising energy transitions towards a possible Net Zero for India: Affordable and Clean Energy for All,’ asserted that net zero is not possible without substantial nuclear power and renewable energy generation by 2070.
  • To achieve net-zero energy systems by 2070, the report mentioned that the electricity sector will need to decarbonize well before that.


Way Forward: 

  • NDC Goals: The remaining gaps in emissions will be offset through sequestration in forestry and tree cover as envisaged in our Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
  • Need for Technological intervention: There is no silver bullet to achieve net zero. The transition needs multiple pathways to be adopted with the co-existence of myriad technologies in our energy basket.


Mains PYQ

Q Discuss the implications of heightened heat waves in India, as highlighted by recent statements from the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

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