The rapid expansion of the renewable energy sector following the technological changes which has sharply reduced the cost of renewable power generation, especially solar and wind energy, would be a game changer that would improve the competitiveness of some countries much faster than others. Countries with much higher renewable energy potential would now soon race far head of those with lower renewable energy resources.
This differential impact of the emergence of renewable energy also applies to countries like India with sub continental dimensions and with a rather skewed distribution of renewable power potential. This is brought out in the recent reports of the government of India which show the extent of the disparities in renewable energy potential across the states.
Overall numbers on renewable energy show that the country has a renewable energy potential of 11.98 lakh MW. Of this the bulk is from solar power which accounts for 7.48 lakh MW which is about two third (62.5%) of the renewable energy potential. Next comes wind power where the potential is 3 lakh MW which is about a quarter of the potential (25.2%). Share of other renewables like small hydro power, biomass, co-generation and wastes are in the minuscule 0.2% to 1.7% range.
Distribution of renewable energy is skewed not only in terms of sources but also in terms of location with most of the potential concentrated in a few states. Rajasthan, which has a potential to generate 1.67 lakh MW of renewable energy, including 1.42 lakh MW of solar energy, alone accounts for 14% of the national potential. The second ranked state with the most potential is Gujarat, with a potential capacity of 1.57 lakh MW which is 13.1% of the national potential.
The third state with the highest renewable potential is Maharashtra which has a potential of 1.19 lakh MW which is again a tenth of the national potential. The next four states with the highest potential are Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu with their respective shares being 9.9%, 8.3%, 8.3% and 5.7% respectively. Together these seven major states account for more than two thirds (69.2%) of the renewable energy potential in the country.
This makes it pretty clear that it is the more industrial states which have the edge in terms of renewable energy potential with five of the seven states with the maximum renewable potential being comparatively more industrially advanced states. These would include Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Only Rajasthan and Jammu & Kashmir are the laggard states with a substantial renewable energy potential.
Another striking factor is that five of the seven states with the maximum renewable energy potential are coastal states with three in the south and two in the West. Such a locational distribution implies that the coastal states which already have an edge over the hinterland states in competitiveness, especially when it comes to catering for global markets in merchandize trade, will now have an even greater advantage. Similarly the southern and western states which have better performing economies will continue to gain over the others.
So the era of renewable energy is likely to give a greater boost to the already better off states than to the others. This is likely to cause a greater divergence in the economy unless efforts are made to boost the other resources of the disadvantageous states in more appropriate ways.
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