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Climate change to affect India’s renewable energy plan: Study

Changes in wind pattern in the Northern Hemisphere and pollution are seen taking a toll of wind power and solar power plants, respectively

New Delhi: Changing weather patterns may negatively impact India’s renewable energy generation capacity, said developers and weather scientists.

A recent research published in Nature Geoscience, which used 10 global climate models to investigate large-scale changes in wind power generation across the globe, indicated that there will be changes in wind power across Northern Hemisphere, with substantial regional variations.

Dr. K.J. Ramesh, director general of meteorology, India Meteorological Department, agrees: “The weather is bound to change due to climate change. When rainfall patterns are changing, the intensity and frequency of heavy rainfall is changing, warming is changing, there will be appropriate changes in the wind regime as well.”

The findings could throw a spanner in the works of the world’s largest renewable energy programme launched by India, which seeks to produce 100 gigawatts (GW) from solar projects and 60GW from wind power plants by March 2022.

In fact, Hyderabad-based renewable energy firm Greenko Group said that in the past two years the company has faced certain headwinds in wind power generation. “In the average view, we are fine, but in the short-term, in the past two years or so, we have had a bad season. Normally, we don’t get to see two continuous years of bad seasons,” said Mahesh Kolli, founder, president and joint managing director, Greenko Group.

Dr. S.W.A. Naqvi, former head, National Institute of Oceanography, said India has already seen an inter-annual variability in wind-speeds.

Solar power developers, too, are aware of the changes in weather conditions. “Variability in solar radiation is being observed not just on seasonal basis but also on a year-on-year basis for the same locations. This is a challenge for independent power producers as the revenue model is solely dependant on the radiation levels received,” said Anmol Singh Jaggi, director at solar advisory firm Gensol Group.

Dr. Malti Goel, head, Climate Change Research Institute, however, said that more than climate change, increasing pollution levels are a cause for concern for solar energy. “With emissions on rise, we need to develop solar energy systems that can be maintained well in such changing circumstances, because the quantum of solar energy decreases, if pollution increases.”

The impact of climate change is also evident from the fact that India incurred losses of $9-10 billion, annually, due to extreme weather events. The Economic Survey 2016-17 also pitched for climate insurance instruments.

However, the Centre seems to be oblivious of the fact. “No developer has approached us till date with such a concern,” said a senior government official, requesting anonymity. There is no ‘conclusive’ or ‘visible’ evidence for the same, he added.

A ministry of new and renewable energy resources spokesperson, too, echoed simi

lar views in an emailed response: “There is no evidence from the ground that conclusively suggests that solar and wind power generation has been affected due to climate change consideration. None of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reports supports such considerations. There are sporadic papers that have studied the inter-seasonal variability of solar and wind power, but there is nothing to suggest any long-term impacts.”

“Though effects of climate change are evident, as the minimum temperature has recorded an increase, but there has been no visible effect of climate change on wind patterns or solar energy,” said a ministry of earth sciences spokesperson.

However, scientists are of the view that one needs to take note of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, which cause changes in global atmospheric circulation and potentially affect wind power. “Climate change is an important factor which needs to be taken into consideration before planning wind resources. The atmospheric circulation is expected to change, because of warming, which could affect the wind patterns as well. There is definitely going to be a potential impact,” said NIO’s Naqvi.

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