Frontrunner States

Leading the way in renewable energy development

India has a vast resource of renewable energy, especially solar. However, the potential, as well as development of re­newable energy, varies vastly across the states owing to geographical, political and economic factors. A few states have been better performing than others in ter­ms of renewable capacity dep­loyment. The top 10 states with the highest insta­ll­ed renewable energy capa­city together ac­­count for about 93 per cent of India’s total installed renewables capacity. While Karnataka had maintained its position as a frontrunner for many years, it was re­cently surpassed by Tamil Nadu. In fact, Gujarat, which is at the third position, is expected to catch up with Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Meanwhile, Rajasthan has em­­erged as the state with the largest so­lar capacity, overtaking Karnataka, and Ut­tar Pradesh and Punjab have started ex­panding their rene­wable capacity ins­ta­llation. While solar po­wer is dominant am­o­ng renewables, wind (including re­po­w­ering of the existing pla­nts), hydro­power, wind-solar hybrid and pumped hydro storage are being harne­ss­ed acro­ss several states.

Renewable Watch takes a look at the top performing states in the country in terms of capacity addition so far…

Tamil Nadu

Overtaking Karnataka in the past year, although still neck and neck, Tamil Nadu now has the largest capacity (15.75 GW) of renewable power generation in the country. The state contributes over 15 per cent to India’s total installed capacity of renewables. At the state level, renewable energy forms about 46 per cent of the total power generation capacity. A favo­u­rable coastline for wind speed, conducive policies and in­centives have led to healthy wind power development in the state. With 9,847 MW of installed capacity, Tamil Nadu currently has the highest installed capacity of wind power across states. Given a history of wind power development spanning de­ca­des, the state offers a huge potential for repowering the existing wind plants. The state has also experien­ced significant ac­tivity in the solar power segment over the past few years. As of Oc­tober 2021, Tamil Nadu, with 4,738 MW, has the fourth lar­gest installed ca­pacity of solar power in India. Despite a growth in solar capacity of around 12 per cent since October 2020, the state moved down from the third position in terms of solar capacity. Going forward, Tamil Nadu plans to retire old thermal plants and re-evaluate the energy mix by integrating more renewable energy to meet its demand.


Karnataka’s total renewable energy capacity stands at around 15.73 GW, 14 MW less than that of Tamil Nadu. The sta­te currently has the second highest in­s­talled capacity of solar power (7.5 GW) across India. Renewables constitute more than half (51.7 per cent) of the state’s total installed power generation capacity. At around 48 per cent, solar power forms the largest share of renewables. Meanwhile, the wind, bioenergy and small-hydro segments constitute 32 per cent, 12 per cent and 8 per cent respectively. In October 2021, the state reissued the Draft Karna­taka Renewable Energy Policy, 2021-2026 with the aim to develop 10 GW of renewable energy projects with and without en­ergy storage; of this 1 GW will be rooftop solar. The positive policy environment, the promotion of solar parks and open acc­ess have been the key drivers of rene­w­able energy growth in the state. However, Karnataka’s energy sector still faces issues relating to inadequate transmission infrastructure.


An early mover in the Indian renewable energy space, Gujarat is now a leading state in terms of solar and wind power project investments. It has 15.23 GW of total installed renewable energy capacity, comprising 8.95 GW of wind power, 6.09 GW of solar and a small capacity of biomass and small-hydro power. The state has a huge potential for solar and wind energy development, estimated at 122 GW. The barren but renewable-rich region of Kutch has become an investment hot­spot in the past few years with multi-GW solar and wind power projects in the pipeline. A 30 GW solar-wind hybrid park is planned in the region; the foundation stone for this was laid in December 2020. Further, massive clean energy equipment facilities are planned by various industry heavyweights such as Adani, Reliance In­dustries and ReNew Power to leverage the state’s strategic location on internatio­nal shipping routes and access to ports. This has further been facilitated by the launch of the production-linked incentive scheme along with various trade barriers imposed on solar imports by the central government. The discoms in Gujarat have been receiving good ratings, providing a firm financial ground for developers. With respect to its net installed renewable energy capacity, Gujarat ranks third after Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. In the future, Gu­jarat might outrank these two states ow­ing to the massive capacity deployments that are in the pipeline.


Rajasthan has been an early mover in the renewable energy space. At 13.39 GW, it has the fourth highest renewable energy installed capacity. Despite good wind potential, the growth in the renewable sector has been largely driven by solar power in the state. It is now the top state in solar in­stallations, overtaking Karnataka at the end of the third quarter of 2021. As of Oc­tober 2021, the total solar installations in the state stand at 8.9 GW. A large ca­pacity of solar power is expected to come online in Rajasthan in the near fu­tu­re; however, some solar projects to be de­veloped in the habitats of the Great Indian Bustard and Lesser Florican have been stranded and are awaiting the Supreme Court’s de­ci­si­on. In addition to improvement in infrastr­uc­ture, another area of concern for the state is the financial state of its discoms. Discom performance needs to improve and the problem of delayed payments ne­e­ds to be resolved to instil confidence in renewable energy developers.


Renewable energy deployment has been gradually picking up in Maharashtra, and the state today has the fifth highest re­newable energy installed capacity in the country. Wind power installation, which is fourth highest across states, accounts for around 47 per cent of the total renewable capacity in the state. In second place is bioenergy, with a total installed capacity of 2,632 MW, which is the highest state-level total in the country. Solar power accounts for the third highest installed capacity am­ong renewables, at 2,540 MW, comprising mostly ground-mounted projects, which make up 1,646 MW. The re­maining 380.58 MW is constituted by small hydro. In addition to utility-scale projects, the state has been promoting the use of decentralised and off-grid renewable energy applications in a bid to reach communities that are not able to secure regular supply of grid electricity. The state currently has a strong solar and wind project pipeline. In order to harness the wind and solar po­tential in the state and exploit the mutual synergies of the two resources, Maha­ra­shtra State Electricity Distribution Com­pa­ny Limited (MSEDCL) has tendered over 500 MW of wind-solar hybrid capacity to be developed across the state. Fur­ther, solar applications in agriculture are proving to be popular in the state.

Andhra Pradesh

As of October 2021, Andhra Pradesh had around 9,175 MW of renewable energy capacity, which is about 8.5 per cent more compared to the year before. The largest contributors to this capacity are the solar and wind segments. While solar power makes up about 47.7 per cent of the total renewable energy capacity in the state, wind contributes about 44.6 per cent. In order to promote the uptake of renewable energy, the state government has issued solar, wind and wind-solar hybrid policies. In Andhra Pradesh, a large share of power is consumed by the agricultural sector. To this end, the state government plans to set up solar projects to meet the increasing demand for power and supply free, uninterrupted power to the agricultural sector. Further, the potential for pumped hydro storage is being explored. Greenko is currently developing a multi-GW scale integrated renewable energy storage project with national grid connectivity in the state. NREDCAP has also floated a tender for reports on the techno-commercial feasibility of pumped storage power projects in the state.

Madhya Pradesh

As of October 2021, the state’s total in­s­talled power generation capacity stood at 25,197 MW. Renewable energy made up about 21 per cent of this power mix, and there are plans to rapidly increase this share in the coming years. The renewable energy capacity in Madhya Pradesh has grown nearly tenfold over the past de­cade. The total installed renewable en­ergy capacity in the state was less than 500 MW in 2012, and it now stands at 5,244 MW. Solar and wind energy each have a balanced share of about 48 per cent in the total renewable energy capacity of Madh­ya Pradesh. The growth in the renewable energy space has largely been driven by solar power installations in the past few years. A large part of solar power deve­lop­ment in the state is taking place thro­u­gh large-scale solar parks. Of the total so­lar parks approved in 2021 in India, the ma­xi­mum have been approved for Ma­dh­ya Pradesh. In fact, of the 18,000 MW of capacity approved for solar parks, about 5,000 MW is to be developed in Madhya Pradesh alone. However, the health of state discoms has not improved much over the past few years and they continue to suffer from high revenue losses.


Telangana currently has about 4.4 GW of installed capacity of renewable power, accounting for about 25 per cent of the state’s total installed capacity. The state’s renewable energy capacity has been inc­reasing steadily with a solar-focused app­roach. The solar capacity stood at 4,036 MW as of October 2021. The rooftop solar segment, with a current capacity of 205 MW, has also been growing. Telan­gana has built a unique model of decentralised solar development. Emerging technologies such as floating solar are also being explored. For instance, NTPC is developing a 100 MW floating solar project. This has helped reduce expenditure and inc­rea­se the share of renewables in the sta­te’s power sector. The estimated wind en­ergy potential is close to 4.2 GW but the installed capacity is only 128 MW so far. Moreover, the acquisition of land for such projects is a challenge. While wind development is stymied, Telangana aims to have a total installed renewable energy capacity of 6 GW, primarily through solar, by the end of 2022-23.

Uttar Pradesh

The state had a total installed renewable energy capacity of 4.26 GW, as of Oct­ober 2021, compared to barely 1.2 GW of commissioned solar power capacity, as of September 2020. This growth can be att­ributed to the scaling up of solar power projects in the state. Further, with over 2.2 GW of installed capacity, Uttar Pradesh is in the second position, after Maharashtra, in the bioenergy space owing to the abundance of sugar industries in the region.

The Uttar Pradesh New and Renewable En­­ergy Development Agency has been active in tendering solar power projects over the past year. The state has four up­coming solar parks, which will ha­ve a total power generation capacity of 2,840 MW. These include the 1,200 MW Ja­laun Solar Park, the 600 MW Lalitpur Solar Park and the 600 MW Jhansi Solar Park. Uttar Pra­de­sh has also been promoting rooftop solar.


The state has an installed renewable en­ergy capacity of about 1,759 MW, com­pri­sing solar, bioenergy and small-hy­dro. Of these, solar has the largest share with 1,093 MW of installed capacity as of Oc­to­ber 2021. Among recent developments in the solar segment, SJVN won a 100 MW grid-connected solar project from Punjab State Power Corporation Limited. As per the draft renewable energy policy issued in October 2019, the state has a target of developing 3,000 MW of solar projects by 2030, including utility-scale, canal-top, rooftop, floating and hybrid solar. The second largest share in the renewable mix is of bioenergy, which forms 28 per cent of the total renewable capacity, contributing 491 MW. Being an agrarian state, there is a lot of untapped biomass potential in Pu­njab. Further, instead of burning the un­wan­ted stubble to dispose of the crop residue, it can be used as biomass fuel for power production.


Net, net, a lot of interesting developments are taking place across Indian states as they make efforts to expand their clean en­ergy portfolios. In order to ensure sustainable development of renewables, the­se states should focus on improving tra­ns­mission, enabling land acquisition, ad­d­ressing payment delays and removing bureaucratic hurdles for continued inves­tor and developer confidence.


By Meghaa Gangahar


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