Finland-based University Says Delhi Can Achieve 100% Renewables by 2050

The research proposed a cost-optimal renewable mix for the transition


Delhi can transition away from fossil fuels entirely by as early as 2050, researchers at the Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology (LUT University) in Finland said in its latest study.

The research drew out an “Energy System Transition Model” and studied its feasibility as a pathway across North India with Delhi as a case to achieve 100% renewables by 2050.

Based on the model, the team estimated that the city’s demand can be efficiently met with 100% renewables while achieving net zero emissions by 2050. The researchers said the unique features of the model will enable cost-optimal energy system transition pathways on high levels of geospatial and temporal resolutions.

Currently, cities contribute massively to the growing energy demand with two-thirds of global energy consumption, and by extension are responsible for 70% of global GHG emissions.

Solar can lead Delhi’s transition

The study said that solar energy supply is expected to increase rapidly through the transition and generate about 96% of the demand by 2050, which is already the lowest-cost electricity source.

Solar can meet 96% of Delhi’s energy demands by 2050 | Source: LUT University

Delhi is likely to import low-cost renewable electricity from its neighboring states, as this is the least-cost solution for the entire region. This could be achieved with direct investments, power purchase agreements, or other forms of longer-term contracts which would contribute to equalizing the cost levels.

Additionally, the team pointed out that the opportunities for low-carbon investments in cities are immense and the amplification of these investments can drive energy transitions regionally as well as nationally.

This is expected to lead to a rapid decline the GHG emissions in comparison to the current levels of 825 MtCO2eq/a in 2020, which will be in line with the Paris Agreement target of limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C.

The level of air pollution is simultaneously expected to decline through the transition to near zero by 2050, reducing associated health impacts across the region and avoiding premature mortalities,

Further, the research said that the energy transition across North India can create massive job opportunities, with the total number of direct energy jobs set to increase rapidly from about 1.8 million in 2020 to just over 4.4 million by 2050.

Powering megacities with renewables

According to the UN, urban agglomerations having over 10 million inhabitants are counted as megacities. Most of the megacities are from developing regions, with a majority in China and India.

When it comes to cutting emissions, megacities around the world will have to lead with science-based climate targets including energy pathways for reducing GHG emissions.

The researchers analyzed the development of the energy system (power, heat, transport, and desalination sectors) in the best policy scenario (BPS), in which greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions reach zero by 2050 with the comprehensive adoption of sustainable technologies.

The research relied on several models including electricity generation technologies with renewable energy (RE), fossil, and nuclear technologies, heat generation technologies with renewable and fossil and energy storage technologies with electricity and heat storage technologies.

Further, the models also considered fuel conversion technologies with fuels for energy, mainly in transport and fuel storage technologies along with electricity transmission technologies.

The Ministries of Power and New and Renewable Energy continued with policy reforms in 2022, for a robust green energy market in the country. Read India’s Green Policies in 2022 which laid the groundwork to meet future targets.

India’s cumulative installed renewable energy capacity, including large hydro projects, stood at 163.7 GW, accounting for a 40.3% share of the overall power capacity mix at the end of the third quarter (Q3) of the calendar year (CY) 2022, according to data from the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), and Mercom’s India Solar Project Tracker.