The Path to Drawdown: PV Solar Development
To solve climate change and remain below 1.5ºC of global warming, the globe needs to switch to generating power from fossil fuels to using 100% emissions free sources.
The largest source of this clean energy is the sun (barring advances in nuclear fusion). Photovoltaic or PV solar panels (the kind you see on rooftops) have emerged as the predominant way of capturing the sun's energy and converting it into electricity.
The industry has been growing fast and, as of 2020, solar panels are now the cheapest source of electricity in most places on earth.
Solar produces ~2% of global electricity today. According to Project Drawdown, to be on a path to remain under 1.5ºC of warming, utility scale solar (as opposed to rooftop solar) will need to be generating a combined ~26% of global electricity by 2050.
To get there, the PV solar industry is going to need to continue to massively scale over the few next decades:
- 720 TWh of solar electricity generated in 2019
- 28,200 TWh needed by 2050
- CAGR of 12.56% from 2019 - 2050
Another analysis from the IEA predicts that in order to reach a 100% clean electricity grid by 2050, annual solar panel manufacturing capacity will need to scale from 134 GWs in 2020 to 630 GWs in 2030 (p. 74).
Azure Power Global Limited (stock ticker: AZRE) is a leading independent solar power producer in India. It sells solar energy to central and state government utilities and independent industrial and commercial customers. Headquartered in New Delhi, India, Azure Power has steadily expanded its production across India.
AZRE's Role in Drawdown
AZRE’s operating solar portfolio is 2.1 GWs, or an estimated 2.66% of global utility solar production of 80.3 GWs. Assuming they retain a similar market-share, this would mean they will need to produce 9.7 GW of utility-scale solar power annually to remain on path to stay below 1.5C° by 2030.
Such growth would necessitate a 16.38% annual increase in production capacity. Given that AZRE grew their operational capacity 24% annually from 2017-2020 and it is projecting a CAGR of 24% (p. 8) over the 2021-2026 period; we are eager to see AZRE hit and surpass this goal.
AZRE: What We Like
AZRE has been focused on providing affordable solar power by expanding utility-scale projects throughout India. As of March 2021 (p. 4), AZRE’s operating GWs were 2.1 GWs and committed GWs (either under construction or power purchasing agreement pending) were 5 GWs, totaling a portfolio of 7.1 GWs. This represents a ~5.5x increase since September 2017 (p.8).
AZRE has committed to reducing GHG emissions from their own organization as well as from their supply chain.
- 30% reduction (p. 37) in scope 1 and 2 emissions per MWh generated by 2023.
- Reduction in scope 3 (p. 37) emissions by including only vendors and suppliers who monitor their own GHG emissions
AZRE is expanding project portfolio in an increasingly sustainable fashion.
- 52% reduction (p. 38) in net water consumption on site
AZRE has also shown its commitment to sustainability by joining global sustainability initiatives (p. 1)
- Reporting to CDP beginning in August 2020
- Joining the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)
- Joining the UN Global Compact
- Ranked in top 10 most sustainable global renewable energy companies by Sustainalytics