In H1 2021, India met 72% of electricity demand growth through solar and wind


India’s electricity demand in the first half of 2021 grew only 3% higher than H1-2019 levels due to the continued impact of the pandemic. This is one of the lowest increases in developing Asia as pandemic restrictions continued, according to a half-yearly report by London-based research organization Ember.

The nation met almost three-quarters (72%) of the increase in electricity demand with growth in solar (+47%) and wind (+9%). However, coal generation also increased by 4% to fill the remaining gap in demand and to fill reduced hydroelectricity generation, almost returning to its 2018 peak.

The figures paint a better picture for India than other Asian nations where coal/fossil fuel growth accounted for a much bigger share in meeting the rise in electricity demand.

For instance, China’s electricity demand rose by 14% from H1-2019 to H1-2021. And it met only 29% of that rise in demand by wind and solar; over two-thirds (68%) was met by coal power. That pushed up China’s power sector CO2 emissions by 14% from H1-2019 to H1-2021.

Bangladesh met electricity demand growth almost entirely from fossil fuels. Pakistan was the only country besides Bangladesh that saw no increase in wind and solar generation, simultaneous to a rise in electricity demand.

Grey recovery

The 4% rise in coal generation, and thus increase in CO2 emissions, puts India among grey recovery countries, i.e., countries where high electricity demand growth was met in part with wind and solar and in part with extra coal generation, leading to higher power sector CO2 emissions. 

The Ember report finds mostly Asian countries (Mongolia, China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, and India) saw a ‘grey recovery.’  

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