Current installed capacity and the planned additions, including renewable and coal, could be sufficient to meet the energy demand by 2026 and therefore no new investment in coal, nuclear or gas capacity will be required.
The Transitions in the Indian Energy Sector study also suggests that beyond 2024, all new capacity additions could be renewables, provided the price of solar and battery reach INR 5/kWh ($0.074/kWh) and the necessary storage and renewable-energy integration infrastructure is in place.
Solar prices in India have already plunged to INR 4.34/kWh, as seen in a recent bid. Assuming the other conditions are met, India may not require any new coal-based capacity in the future other than those already being built or approved for construction. Assuming a normal operating life of 30-35 years, this would suggest India could be completely coal-free by 2050.
These findings are in stark contrast from earlier official reports that suggested coal dependence lasting well up to 2030-40. This is one of the first studies to suggest that India can do without coal-power generation, which has been the mainstay of the country's power system for decades.
The research report was released alongside two others at an event attended by Indian energy minister Piyush Goyal. "We see India becoming the energy capital of the world," the minister said.
"India is also committed to lowering the emissions intensity of its development in line with our intended nationally determined contributions towards the Paris Agreement," said Goyal.
Ajay Mathur, director general of TERI, highlighted the key findings. "Our report shows that the cost of renewable electricity and its storage is on a steady decline and could stabilise at around INR 5/KWh.
"This would enable India to move decisively towards renewables for future generation. This means that India has a ten-year window where no new investments are likely to be done in coal, gas, or nuclear energy generation," he said.
"The decarbonisation of power generation is also an opportunity to move other carbon-based sectors, like transport to electricity, thus multiplying the benefits of clean energy generation," Mathur added.