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The increase in greenhouse gas emissions and the resulting climatic changes, which occur globally, have understandably caused world-wide concern. According to an assesment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the rise in the average temperature by the end of the next century i.e., 2100 will be between 1 degree to 3.5 degrees C. This has serious implications for the entire ecosystem of the world. This fact has led to a series of initiatives at international levels to develop eco-friendly alternatives that would meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the abilities of the future generations.  

The developed nations have contributed a greater share of the emissions of carbondioxide, leading to global warming. But the current trends in the developing nations are very alarming and, if unchecked, developing countries will contribute half of the annual greenhouse gases. This calls for urgent measures for minimising,  if not replacing, the reliance on fossil fuels to meet the increasing energy requirements. It is for this reason that the non-conventional renewable sources of energy have caught the attention of many. 

Renewables in India

The oil shocks of 1970s led to spiraling crude oil prices in the world market which prompted planners to view energy security as an issue of national strategic importance. Energy security has an important bearing on achieving national economic development goals and improving the quality of life of the people. India’s dependence on crude oil will continue for most part of the 21st century but the continued dependence on crude oil is loaded against it with inherent price volatility linked to finite global reserves. In addition, global warming, caused largely by greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel energy generating systems, is also a major concern. India needs to develop alternate fuels considering the aforesaid two concerns.

The search for alternative fuels that would ensure sustainable development on the one hand and energy security on the other began in the 1970s itself. Consequently, new and renewable sources of energy have emerged as an option. India has a policy framework in place to tap the potential for renewable energy such as solar, wind, biomass, small hydro, irrespective of capacity. The Indian scientific establishment has been working on the development of various renewable energy technologies/ systems. In 1981, the Government of India established a Commission for Additional Sources of Energy (CASE) in the Department of Science and Technology, on the lines of the Space and Atomic Energy Commissions. The mandate of CASE is to promote R&D activities in this area. In 1982, CASE was incorporated in the newly created Department of Non- Conventional Energy Sources (DNES), which in 1992 became the Ministry of Non- Conventional Energy Sources (MNES). The name was subsequently changed to Ministry of New & Renewable Energy Sources (MNRE) in 2006.

MNRE supports the implementation of a large broad- spectrum of programs covering the entire range of new and renewable energies. The program broadly seeks to, inter- alia, supplement conventional fossil fuel- based power; reach renewable energy, including electricity to remote rural areas for a variety of applications like water pumping for irrigation and drinking water purposes, drying farm produce, improved chulhas and biogas plants, energy recovery from the urban, municipal and industrial wastes. In addition, exploitation of hydrogen energy, geothermal energy, tidal energy and biofuels for power generation and automotive applications is also planned.

The Electricity Act 2003 contains several provisions to promote the accelerated development of power generation from non- conventional sources. The Electricity Act 2003 provides that co- generation and generation of electricity for renewable sources would be promoted by the SERCs by providing suitable measures for connectivity with grid and sale of electricity to any person and also by specifying, for purchase of electricity for such sources, a %age of the total consumption of electricity in the area of a distribution licensee.

Projections made in the Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR) reveal that to achieve its development goals, India would need to rely increasingly on imported oil, gas and coal in the medium-term (2032). In this backdrop, the role of new and renewable energy assumes added significance, whether it replaces coal or oil.

In this regard, IEPR recognizes ‘the need to maximally develop domestic supply options as well as the need to diversify energy sources ...’ although renewables are likely to account for only around 5-6 per cent of the primary commercial energy-mix by 2032. It is an imperative of the development process that this energy in the longer term will substantially increase its share in the fuel-mix.

Increasing the share of new and renewable energy in the fuel-mix is in the India’s long-term interest. Although, the development process may warrant selection of least-cost energy options, strategic and environmental concerns may, on the other hand, demand a greater share for new and renewable energy even though this option might appear somewhat costlier in the medium-term.

Power from Renewables

Efforts are being made to reduce the capital cost of projects based on non- conventional and renewable sources of energy, reduce cost of energy by promoting competition within such projects and at the same time, taking adequate promotional measures for development of technologies and a sustained growth of these sources. The efforts to increase the share of renewables in the total power generation capacity of India have yielded results. The share has been continually rising. Renewables contribute about 10856 MW as on September 30, 2007, which represents 7.7% of the total installed capacity. The power generation capacity established so far has largely come about through private investments.

Of this, 6315 MW is the share of wind power placing India at 4th rank world-wide, 1905 MW of small-hydro power and 1152 MW of bio-power. About 5923 MW capacity has been added during the first 4 years and 10 months of the 10th Plan (upto 31.1.2007) against a target of 3075 MW for the 10th Plan. Accordingly the share of renewables in 10th Plan power generating capacity addition is 20 per cent, i.e., double the initial aim of 10 per cent. Capacity addition during 2006-07 (upto 31.1.2007) has been 1191MW: wind power-933 MW; bio-power-199 MW; small hydro power -69 MW. As per currents trends, renewable power capacity addition during the year should reach 2000 MW.

New and Renewable Sources of Energy- Potential and Achievement as on January 01, 2007


Sources / Systems






I. Power From Renewables

A. Grid-interactive renewable power


Bio Power (Agro residues)

16,8811 MWe

510.00 MW


Wind Power

45,1952 MWe

6315.00 MW


Small Hydro Power (up to 25 MW)

15,0003 MWe

1905.00 MW



5,0004 MWe

602.00 MW


Waste to Energy

2,7005 MWe

40.95 MW


Sub Total (in MW) (A)

84,7766 MWe

9372.95 MW

B. Distributed renewable power


Solar Power


2.92 MW


Biomass Power / Cogen.(non-bagasse)


34.30 MW


Biomass Gasifier


75.85 MW


Waste-to- Energy


11.03 MW


Sub Total (B)


124.10 MW


Total ( A + B )


9497.05 MW


Remote Village Electrification


2501 villages + 830 hamlets

III. Decentralised Energy Systems


Family Type Biogas Plants

120 lakh


38.90 lakh


Solar Photovoltaic Programme

20 MW/



i. Solar Street Lighting System


54659 nos.


ii. Home Lighting System


301603 nos.


iii. Solar Lantern


463058 nos.


iv. Solar Power Plants


1859.80 kWp


Solar Thermal Programme




i. Solar Water Heating Systems


1.66 million sq.m. collector area


ii. Solar Cookers


6.03 lakh


Wind Pumps


1141 nos.


Aero-generator /Hybrid Systems


572 kW


Solar Photovoltaic Pumps


7068 nos.

IV. Other Programmes


Energy Parks


493 nos.


Akshay Urja Shops


104 nos.


Battery Operated Vehicle


255 nos.

MWe = Megawatt equivalent; MW = Megawatt; kW = kilowatt; kWp = kilowatt peak; sq. m. = square meter


Renewable Sources Of Energy

The renewable sources of energy are as follows

  • Wind Energy
  • Small Hydro Power
  • Solar Energy
  • Biogas Energy and Cogeneration
  • Biomass Gassification
  • Energy from Urban and Industrial Waste
  • Ocean Energy

New Renewable Energy Technologies

Besides Solar, Wind, Biomass, there are quite a few other eco-friendly and renewable sources from which one can tap energy for varied applications. Some of them are stated below. 

  • Chemical Sources Of Energy
  • Hydrogen Energy
  • Geothermal Energy
  • Alternate Fuels for Surface Transportation

Wind Power


Amongst the different renewable energy sources, wind energy is making a significant contribution to the grid power installed capacity of India, and is emerging as a competitive option. India’s wind power potential has been assessed at 45,000 MW for sites having wind power density (wpd) greater than 200 W/m2 at 50 m hub-height, assuming land availability in potential area @ 1 per cent and requirement of wind farms @ 12 ha/MW. Further, preliminary surveys do not at this juncture suggest a sizeable grid-interactive off-shore wind power potential.

The cumulative installed capacity of grid-interactive wind power projects up to 31.3.2006 was 5382 MW. During 2006-07 888 MW have been installed up to January 01, 2007 and as per trends it is likely that a total of 1700 MW would be added during the year. With this, the capacity addition of wind power during the 10th Plan would be 5415 MW. Tamil Nadu is maintaining its lead in wind installations, accounting for over 50% of total capacity in India. Public sector undertakings, public utilities and corporate houses have been invited to invest in commercial wind power projects to partly meet their power requirements. Wind turbines of 1, 1.25, 1.5 and 1.65 MW are being installed across India in large numbers. Asia’s largest wind turbine generator of 2 MW capacity has been installed at Chettikulam in Tirunelveli Dist Tamil Nadu. Muppandal in Tamil Nadu continues to have one of the largest concentration of wind farms in India.

Supporting this effort is the world’s largest wind resource assessment program. Wind Energy program of MNRE aims at utilizing wind energy for water pumping, battery charging and power generation. The program supports wind resource assessment, research & development, field testing, demonstration of different technologies, strengthening of manufacturing base etc. The program comprises Small Wind Energy & Hybrid Systems program and Wind Power program.

Wind Resource potential

Assuming 1% of land availability for wind power generation, India has a potential of 45,000 MW on- shore. The technical potential has been estimated at about 13,000 MW, assuming grid penetration of about 20%. Master Plans have been prepared for 97 potential sites taking into account the zone of influence around each mast. 211 wind monitoring stations in 13 states and Union Territories having a mean annual wind power density greater than or equal to 200 W/m2 at 50 m height above ground level have been identified for wind power development. It is also proposed to prepare a Wind Atlas for India, which will give the overall potential in various States and identify high windy areas and specific sites for setting up wind power projects.

The Wind Resource Assessment Program is being implemented in India through the Centre for Wind Energy Technology (C-WET), an autonomous institution of the Ministry. Around 1,150 wind monitoring/mapping stations were set up in 25 States and Union Territories, out of which 50 wind monitoring stations are in operation with the remaining stations having been closed after collection and analysis of data.

Small Wind Energy and Hybrid Systems

Small Wind Energy Systems such as water pumping windmills, aero- generators and wind- solar hybrid systems harness wind power potential for meeting mechanical and electrical power requirement in decentralised mode. These systems are useful for deployment in several rural and remote areas of India, which are unelectrified or have intermittent electric supply.

The Ministry is implementing a program on small wind energy and hybrid systems, with the main objectives of (i) field testing, demonstrating, and strengthening the manufacturing base of water pumping windmills, aero- generators / hybrid systems, and (ii) undertaking research & development for improvement of designs and efficiency of these systems. The promotional scheme for these systems has been modified during the year restricting system capacity and sites eligible for subsidy.

An aggregate capacity of 484.58 kW of such systems has been installed under the scheme, of which 88.4 kW has been installed during April-December 2006. Such systems in the unit capacity range of 1-10 kW have been mostly installed in Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and West Bengal.

State- Wise & Year- Wise Wind Power Installed Capacity (as on January 01, 2007)

(in MW)


Cumulative Installed Capacity (MW)

Andhra Pradesh








Madhya Pradesh






Tamil Nadu


West Bengal






State- Wise/ Year- Wise Generation from Wind Power Projects

For detailed information on the Indian Renewable Energy Sector, refer to the report - 'Overview of Power Sector in India 2008 edition'

Promotional Policies

Both fiscal incentives and promotional measures initiated by MNRE have helped the accelerated development of wind power development in India. The package of incentives available for wind energy projects included tax concessions such as 80 per cent accelerated depreciation, tax holiday for power generation projects, loans from IREDA, customs and excise duty relief, liberalised foreign investmet procedures, etc.

Preferential tariffs are being reviewed by the State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (ERCs). Three States- Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra have announced promotional policies through their respective ERCs. The Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) has passed its order for making purchase of electricity generated from renewable sources obligatory for all utilities in Maharashtra. This Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) shall be applicable from financial year 2004- 05. The operational details of mechanism are being worked out. Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission has directed that each distribution licencee shall purchase a minimum quantum of 5% and maximum quantum of 10% electricity annually from renewable sources expressed as a percentage of its total consumption.

For detailed information on the Indian Renewable Energy Sector, refer to the report - 'Overview of Power Sector in India 2008 edition'

Also read "Clean Development Mechanism and Renewable Energy- India's perspective" By D. N.Yuvaraj Dinesh Babu, TERI

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