India’s solar growth of 26% was above the global average and powered half of the country’s demand increase in the same period, says the Ember report
India contributed 12% of the global increase in solar generation in the first half of 2023, similar to the European Union, according to a report by energy think tank Ember.
The report analysed electricity data from January to June 2023, compared to the same period last year, across 78 countries representing 92% of global electricity demand.
The report found that at a global level, solar generated 5.5% of global electricity in the first half of 2023, an increase of 16% (+104 TWh) from the same period last year. India’s solar growth of 26% (+12 TWh) was above the global average, and powered half of the country’s demand increase in the same period. Fifty countries set new monthly records for solar generation in the first half of 2023, including India in May. Across the first half of 2023, India generated 7.1% of its electricity from solar, the figures said.
The increase in renewables in India, amid moderate demand growth, led to slow growth in coal generation. As a result, the report noted, India’s power sector emissions grew by 3.7% (+19 million tonnes of CO2) in the first half of 2023, less than half of the growth seen in the first half of 2022 (+9.7%, +45 million tonnes of CO2). In India, the growth in wind and solar in the first half of 2023 prevented an increase of 11 million tonnes of emissions.
“India has the potential to be a major global player in solar power,” said Ember’s India analyst Neshwin Rodrigues. “Renewables are doing the job of slowing India’s emissions growth which is helping to get the world to a plateau in power sector emissions.”
However, India’s growth in generation by solar in absolute terms was the same in the first half of 2022 and 2023. This means that solar’s relative growth is lower in the first half of this year (+26%) compared to the same period last year (+35%). “India must push for larger solar power capacity additions in the next 4-5 years if it is to meet the targets set out in its new National Electricity Plan and retain its high growth rates”, added Ember’s asia programme lead, Aditya Lolla.
As solar and wind grow, power emissions plateau
The report also revealed that global power sector emissions plateaued in the first half of 2023, with a slight increase of 0.2% (+12 mtCO2) compared to the same period last year, as wind and solar continue to grow. However, the report noted that adverse hydro conditions, likely exacerbated by climate change, prevented emissions from falling.
“It’s still hanging in the balance if 2023 will see a fall in power sector emissions,” said Malgorzata Wiatros-Motyka, senior electricity analyst, Ember, and the lead author of the report. “While it is encouraging to see the remarkable growth of wind and solar energy, we can’t ignore the stark reality of adverse hydro conditions intensified by climate change. The world is teetering at the peak of power sector emissions, and we now need to unleash the momentum for a rapid decline in fossil fuels by securing a global agreement to triple renewables capacity this decade.”
According to the report, fossil fuels and emissions would have fallen in the first half of 2023 if it weren’t for a historic fall in hydro generation due to droughts. The report said it is unclear whether the situation will improve in the rest of the year. Nonetheless, the report said, it is clear from the latest global data on electricity generation that the world is nearing the point of falling power sector emissions.