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Foreign Collaboration in Renewable Energy R&D in India

A study of the status quo, trends, drivers and barriers

[Background] [Objectives] [Proposed Methodology]

A project of:

Project by: Dr. Rajnish Tiwari and Aditya Prasad Bhagwat

Start: Oct. 2015

Project Status: Completed in March 2016

Keywords: Renewable Energies; Innovation Paths; Overseas R&D; Global Innovation; India

Schlüsselwörter: Erneuerbare Energien; Innovationspfade; F&E; Globalisierung; Globale Innovation; Indien

Note: Some preliminary results of this study were presented at the Symposium "Einsatzpotenzial erneuerbarer Energien in Indien", as a part of the India Week Hamburg 2015, at Hamburg Chamber of Commerce. A PDF presentation (approx. 2 MB) may be downloaded from there.

An edited and updated version of this study was published as:

Bhagwat, A. P. and Tiwari, R. (2017): Renewable Energy in India: Policies, Trends and Foreign Direct Investments in Research and Development. In: Herstatt, C. and Tiwari, R., eds. Lead Market India: Key Elements and Corporate Perspectives for Frugal Innovations. Heidelberg: Springer, 213-238.


1.1 Global significance of Energy Scenario in India

In 2011, India had the world's second largest population of 1.24 billion. It was also already the world's tenth largest economy in terms of the GDP. And yet, nearly a fourth of its population lacked access to electricity. Unlike the developed countries where the energy demand has either already saturated or is close to saturation, India - an "emerging economy" - is still struggling to meet its increasing energy demand. According to the World Energy Outlook (WEO) 2011, "India's energy demand more than doubled from 1990 to 2009" making it the third largest demand in the world after China and the US. It is also the third largest CO2 emitter in the world. Thus, the path adopted by India to meet this demand in terms of the policies it implements, the technologies it develops or acquires, the rate at which it shifts from conventional to renewable and greener sources of energy is of great significance for the world energy market as well as for the environmental initiatives that have become a necessity in view of the global climate change.

1.2 Renewable Energy in India

India relies heavily on coal and oil for its energy demands with increasing imports of crude oil and LNG. Renewable sources, such as wind, solar, biomass and small hydro. have a share of about 13% in the total installed capacity, excluding large hydro (see Figure 1). However, WEO 2011 projects a significant possible growth in the share of renewable sources (up to 5%) by 2035. Also, the new government proposes to increase the base of renewable energy sources to 175 GW by 2022; while experts estimate the total potential of renewable sources of energy in India - due to its sunny weather and a large coastline - to stand at about 900 GW.

Installed RE Capacity (36.47GW)

Figure 1: Installed capacity of renewable energies in India
(Based on: Central Electricity Authority, Ministry of Power, Govt. of India, 2015)

Renewable energy is seen as a way to supplement conventional power generation and meet lifeline energy demands especially in the rural and remote areas. It is also required to give a boost to the economy which struggles due to unmet energy demand. It is important to note that the responsibility of the power sector in India is shared by the centre and the state governments. Different states differ in terms of the installed capacity due to infrastructure, policies, government initiatives, geographical location and the different natural presence of energy resources. Tamil Nadu, a southern Indian state has the highest renewable based installed capacity.

Efficient utilization of the installed capacity for power generation is crucial and in case of India it is faced with several challenges such as shortage of fuel supply, pricing, infrastructure and investment. India has a complex framework of ministries, regulatory commissions and State government agencies which handle the matters related to energy and power. In case of renewable energy, The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) leads other agencies in matters of policies, planning, deployment and initiatives. Under MNRE, a number of R&D institutes, including the Solar Energy Centre (SEC) and the Centre for Wind Energy Technology (C-WET). In addition to the above institutes, there are a large and increasing number of private companies which operate in the renewable energy sector and carry out their own R&D. Their technological advancement, experience and increased manufacturing capabilities are therefore critical success factors for overall growth of this sector. However, R&D cannot be pursued in isolation. Without feasible and well planned projects, simultaneous infrastructure building, incentives for investors, and transparent and stable policies, it is very to achieve the large scale investment this sector needs both domestic and foreign.


The objective of this study is to look into the aspect of foreign collaboration in the renewable energy sector in India, particularly in research & development. However, possible relevant peripheral areas will also be addressed when relevant. The following broad level questions arise when setting goals for this study:

  • What is the extent of research and development (R&D) in India's renewable energy sector and what innovations, if any, are taking place within the specific context of India?
  • What is the extent of involvement by foreign/global players and what strategies are being pursued by them in terms of import vs. export, product development, localization etc.?
  • What are the major partner countries and is there an identifiable pattern in terms of preferred collaboration strategies, e.g. in respect of licensing, JVs, technology transfer etc.?
  • What are the key barriers and drivers of the internationalization in India's renewable energy sector?

Proposed Methodology

This study is divided into two possible phases:

  • Desk Research and Literature Review of the available data, statistics and other relevant material
  • Speaking to Experts from RE Industry and Research groups

After the necessary information is collected and compiled, efforts will be made to arrive at conclusion regarding the present situation and if possible recommendations will be made for improvement.


[ For further enquiries, please contact Dr. Rajnish Tiwari ]

Important notice: Research proposals containing project description generally depict initial ideas submitted by students in response to a call for project initiated by the RPGI team, or even on their own initiative. Even though the proposals are cross-checked and edited by the RPGI team before putting them in the public domain, no guarantees can be taken at this stage of the quality and/or other aspects of good academic practices. Their adherence is, however, duly examined when students submit their reports, and prior to any publication of the report.