UN Sustainable Development Goal(UN SDG) Seven & India’s Progress Towards Achieving The Targets Set For The UN SDG 7

Hemanth Kumar J
16 min readMay 2, 2021


The Sustainable Development Goals(SDG) are popularly known as Global Goals. In the year 2015, all the UN member countries adopted these Seventeen UN SDGs as a universal call to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. The 17 SDGs are dependent on each other. The SDGs aim to strike a balance in social, economic and environmental aspects. The SDGs have pledged to leave no one behind. They aim to create a world with zero poverty, hunger, AIDS and discrimination against women and girls. In this article, I would be explaining the UN SDG 7 and India’s progress towards achieving the targets set for the UN SDG 7.

United Nations Sustainability Goals (UNSDGs)

Sustainable Development Goal 7: Affordable And Clean Energy

United Nations Sustainable Goal Number 7

Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG 7) is one of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs) established by the United Nations General Assembly in the year 2015. The aim of the SDG 7 is to “Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”.

The former secretary-general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon in his Keynote address at the Sustainable Energy for All Ministerial Panel, Abu Dhabi International Renewable Energy Conference held on 15th January 2013 said, “Energy is the golden thread that connects economic growth, increased social equity, and an environment that allows the world to thrive.”

Energy has been an integral part of human civilization. It all started with the burning of biomass for cooking and local heating purpose. The Industrial Revolution in the 1700s caused a shift in the source of energy from biomass to petroleum, oil and coal. With the rise in population, the demand for non-renewable sources of energy has been increasing at a rampant rate. This tends to wreak havoc on the environment.

A representative at the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development stated that “despite improved access to electricity globally, nearly one billion people continue to live without electricity and three billion people lack access to clean cooking solutions and are exposed to dangerous levels of indoor air pollution”.

According to UN Development Programme,

One out of ten people still lacks electricity, and most live in rural areas of the developing world where more than half are in sub-urban areas. Energy accounts for 73% of greenhouse gas emission. Energy efficiency is a key aspect; with the right efficiency, policies could enable the world to achieve more than 40 per cent of the emissions cuts needed to reach its climate goals without new technology. Over 2.8 Billion which is approximately one-third of the world’s population people rely on polluting and unhealthy fuels for cooking. As of 2017, 17.5% of the power was generated from renewable sources. In the year 2019, 11.5 million people were employed in the renewable energy sector. The changes needed in energy production and uses to achieve the Paris Agreement target of limiting the rise in temperature to below two-degree celsius can create 18 million jobs.

This truly calls for the need for renewable sources of energy. The global targets of SDG 7 are as follows:

(1)By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services

(2)By 2030, increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix

(3)By 2030, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency

(4)By 2030, enhance international cooperation to facilitate access to clean energy research and technology, including renewable energy, energy efficiency and advanced and cleaner fossil-fuel technology, and promote investment in energy infrastructure and clean energy technology

(5)By 2030, expand infrastructure and upgrade technology for supplying modern and sustainable energy services for all in developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States, and land-locked developing countries, in accordance with their respective programmes of support

The custodian agencies for the SDG 7 are International Energy Agency(, Department of Economic and Social Affairs-Statistics Division/ UN Development Programme, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), World Bank, World Health Organization and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Now I would be elaborating on India’s progress to achieve the targets set for the UN SDG 7.

An Overview On India’s Current Energy Mix

Before understanding India’s progress to achieve the targets set for the UN SDG 7, one must understand India’s current energy mix. Energy mix refers to the combination of various primary sources of energy used to meet the energy requirement in the given geographic region. It includes fossil fuels, nuclear energy and other renewable sources of energy. These primary energy sources are used, for example, for generating power, providing fuel for transportation and heating and cooling residential and industrial buildings.

India’s Cumulative Installed Power Capacity Mix( Source: Mercom India Research)

India is ranked third in the world in terms of power generation accounts for accounting for 5.86%, i.e. 1,561,100 GW of the world’s total annual energy generation after China and the US due to its large geographical size. From the above data on India’s Cumulative Installed Power Capacity Mix from Mercom India Research, it’s quite clear that thermal power holds a significant share of India’s installed power capacity mix. This includes installed power of coal (53.36%), gas (6.71%), lignite (1.78%), and diesel (0.14%). The overall share of thermal power fell to about 62% in 2020 from 63.1% per cent in 2019. Coal-based power continues to be a dominant source of energy with about 198.5 GW of capacity, up from 194.4 GW in the year 2019. Gas-based power installations rose from 2.94 GW in 2019 to 2.96 GW in 2020. Lignite-based power installations increased marginally from 6.26 GW in 2019 to 6.61 GW in 2020. The diesel-based power installations decreased from 637.6 MW in 2019 to 509.7 MW in 2020. Excluding hydro-energy projects, renewable energy accounts for 23.9% of the country’s total power capacity mix. This includes installed power capacity from solar power (9.8%), wind power (10.1%), bio-power (2.7%), small hydro projects (1.3%), and waste-to-energy projects (0.04%). Solar power represents 9.8% of the total installed power capacity in India. Small hydro installations contributed decreased from 1.28% in 2019 to 1.26% in 2020.

India’s Progress Towards Achieving The Targets Set For The UN SDG 7

India’s work in the SDG 7 (Source: UN Development Programme)

Nearly 84.5% have access to electricity. All the villages in India have been electrified. Despite all the villages being electrified, 31 million houses still don’t gave access to electricity. . By December 2019, India had a total of 84 GW of grid-connected renewable electricity capacity. India’s total generating capacity reached 366 GW in 2019. India is making progress towards its target of 175 GW of renewables by 2022. In September 2019, the prime minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, announced that India’s electricity mix would eventually include 450 GW of renewable energy capacity.

Policies And Initiatives By The Government Of India To Reach The Targets Set For UN SDG 7

In this section of the blog, I would be highlighting the Policies And Initiatives By The Government Of India To Reach The Targets Set For UN SDG 7. These policies and initiatives envision clean and affordable energy for every Indian citizen.

Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana — Saubhagya scheme & Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana

Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana — Saubhagya

The government of India has been striving to provide Indian citizens access to access to electricity and clean cooking. Around 700 million people in India have got access to electricity between 2010 and 2018. In the year 2017, Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana — Saubhagya scheme was launched by the Prime Minister of India, Sri Narendra Modi. The scheme was aimed to achieve 24x7 power for all by 2019 by providing electricity connection to each household across the country and also providing subsidy on equipment such as transformers, wires and meters.

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana

The Government of India on 1st May 2016, announced a social welfare scheme Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana. The aim of this scheme aims smoke-free rural India and aims to benefit five crore families especially the women living below the poverty line (BPL) by providing concessional LPG connections to the entire nation by 2019. The scheme was indeed successful in meeting the energy requirements and contribute towards improving women’s health and reduced Carbon dioxide emission. The major programmes by the Government of India target industry and business, relying on large-scale public procurement of efficient products such as LEDs and the use of tradable energy efficiency certificates. The government’s LED programme has radically pushed down the price of the products in the global market and helped create local manufacturing jobs to meet the demand for energy-efficient lighting.

Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) and Its Impact On The Indian Solar Energy Sector

Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission

India is a tropical nation where sunlight is available for a longer duration during the daytime and in great intensity. Solar Energy has a tremendous potential to be the future source of energy. Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM), or the National Solar Mission is an initiative of the Government of India and State Governments that aims to promote solar energy in India. The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) was introduced by the former prime minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh on 11th January 2010. Initially, the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission aimed at achieving 20 GW solar capacity by the year 2022. In the year 2015, the Government of India under Sri Narendra Modi’s regime target was increased from 20 GW to 100 GW by 2022. The objective of the JNNSM is to establish India as a global leader in solar energy. The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission is a three-phase initiative. The first phase of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission was from 2010 to 2013 where the Government of India set a grid-connected PV (including rooftop) target of 1000 MW and an off-grid solar PV applications target of 200 MW. The Second Phase of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission was from 2014 to 2017 where the Government of India set a grid-connected solar PV (including rooftop) target of 4000 MW to 10,000 MW. Phase two of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission also set an off-grid solar PV applications target of 1000 MW and also aimed to develop 25 solar parks & Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects to target 40 GW solar PV. The Third Phase of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission where the Government of India set a grid-connected solar PV (including rooftop) target of 1,00,000 MW and set an off-grid solar PV applications target of 2000 MW. The original target of 20,000 MW was surpassed by the Government of India in the year 2018 ahead of its 2022 deadline.

The Badhla Solar Park, Jodhpur Rajasthan

India now has the fifth-largest solar energy deployment globally with the implementation of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission. The Government of India has announced the development of the world’s largest floating solar energy project with 600 MW capacity in Madhya Pradesh which aims to be completed by 2022–23. Presently, India has more than 40 Major Solar power plants in India, which generates at least 10 MW of power.

A glimpse of the Solar Park projects across India

According to the IEA’s analysis in the year 2018, India’s investment in solar PV was greater than in all fossil fuel sources of electricity generation together. Large-scale auctions have contributed to the transition towards renewable energy development at rapidly decreasing prices. According to the International Energy Agency’s India Energy Outlook 2021, it is anticipated that there would be an 18-fold increase in the share of solar in the national power supply by 2040 from the current level of 4%.

India’s Wind Energy Sector And Its Ambitious Future Plans

Muppandal wind farm, Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu

A wind farm is a group of wind turbines in the same location used to produce electricity. There are two types of wind farms. They are on-shore and off-shore wind farms.

Off-shore and on-shore wind power plant assets

Wind energy is an important source of renewable energy in India. Many of the largest operational onshore wind farms are located in the United States, India and China. At present, India is the fourth largest wind power installed country in the world with a total capacity of 7455.2 MW.

The list of ten largest wind power plants in India

On 13th November 2020, the government of India has proposed a new policy for the development of wind parks and wind-solar hybrid parks in 19 sites across seven states that together have a potential of about 54,000 megawatts of installed capacity. The proposed policy is in line with India’s target of 175,000 MW by 2022 and an ambitious target of 450,000 MW by 2030. India has a coastline of about 7600 km surrounded by water on three sides and has good prospects of harnessing offshore wind energy. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy of India has set a target of 5.0 GW of offshore wind installations by 2022 and 30 GW by 2030. The National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE) carried out the wind resources assessment, which gives total wind energy potential at 302 GW at 100-meter hub height where 95% of commercially exploitable wind resources are concentrated in seven states (Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu).

Indian Hydropower Projects Are Paving The Way For A Sustainable Future

The Tehri hydropower dam

India has nearly 100 hydropower plants above 25 MW, plus nine pumped storage stations. In the year 2019, India surpassed Japan to become the fifth largest in the world for potential hydropower capacity, surpassing 50 GW. The country has over 90 GW of pumped storage potential, with 63 sites identified and recognised in national energy policies for their valuable grid services. The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) and Ministry of Power have also been actively monitoring and fast-tracking priority schemes like the 50,000 MW Hydro-Electric Initiative. The country has around 13,000 MW of hydropower plants under various stages of construction and another 8,000 MW projects are in the pipeline. The current installed capacity of hydropower in the country stands at around 45,700 MW. The estimated hydropower potential in India is 145,000 MW at a 60 per cent plant load factor. The government has officially recognised large hydropower as renewable in 2019. This means that these projects built after March 2019, will be able to benefit from the renewable purchase obligation. Previously only projects up to 25 MW were considered renewable.

The 510 MW Teesta-V power station, owned and operated by NHPC Limited

The Teesta-V hydropower station located in Sikkim, India is a 510 MW hydropower station operated by the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation(NHPC) Limited. It has been appreciated globally for its sustainability aspects. The assessment of the hydropower plant was conducted as per the internationally accepted Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol (HSAP). This was the first of its kind HSAP assessment done in India. The assessment was conducted between January 2019 and June 2019 which included two visits to the project area, with stakeholder interviews from 4–13 March. According to the assessment report, Teesta-V met or exceeded international good practice across all 20 performance criteria. It met proven best practice on its management of asset reliability and efficiency, financial viability, project benefits, cultural heritage, public health, and erosion and sedimentation. This project truly shows that India can build hydropower projects that are both eco-friendly and beneficial to human beings. We can anticipate many more hydropower projects like these in India in the near future. On 14th May 2020 in a webinar organised by industry body ASSOCHAM, Aniruddha Kumar, Joint Secretary at the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy said that India would have an installed hydropower generation capacity of 70,000 MW by 2030.

Biomass As A Sustainable Source Of Energy In India

Indian Biomass Market(2019–2030)

Biomass is an important source of energy in remote villages and urban clusters with decentralised settlements. Biomass related projects in India receive an investment of about $ 9251 million every year, leading to electricity generation of 5000 million units. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has set the national target is to achieve 10 GW of installed biomass power by 2022. India has the potential to produce nearly 18 GW of energy from biomass. India has approximately 5 GW capacity biomass powered plants, out of which 83% are grid-connected while the remaining 17% are off-grid plants. Around 70 Cogeneration projects are under implementation with surplus capacity aggregating of 800 MW. Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka are leading the way for biomass power projects in India with each state having more than 1 GW of Grid interacted biomass power while states like Bihar and Punjab have favourable policy and opportunities in Biomass.

Tidal Energy Still Remains As An Unexplored Domain In India

Tidal power or tidal energy is a renewable source of energy that is harnessed by converting energy from tides into useful forms of power, mainly electricity using various methods. Tidal energy has the potential for future electricity generation.

Tidal Power

In December 2014, the Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai in association with CRISIL Risk and Infrastructure Solutions Limited conducted a study on India’s potential to harness the Tidal Power. The study stated that tidal power potential is estimated at around 12,455 MW. The potential areas with low/medium tidal wave strength were found in the Gulf of Khambat, Gulf of Kutch & southern regions in Gujarat, Palk Bay- Mannar Channel in Tamil Nadu, and Hoogly river, South Haldia & Sunderbans in West Bengal. Tidal energy is still in the Research & Development (R&D) phase. It has not been implemented on a commercial scale in India. The earlier efforts for harnessing tidal power were not successful because of the high capital cost ranging from Rs. 30 crores to Rs. 60 crores per MW.


According to the India 2020, Energy Policy Review by the International Energy Agency states that

The energy and emission intensities of India’s gross domestic product (GDP) have decreased by more than 20% over the past decade. India’s per capita emissions today are 1.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide, which is well below the global average of 4.4 tonnes. India has taken significant steps to improve energy efficiency. According to the analysis by the IEA, These steps have avoided an additional 15% of annual energy demand and 300 million tonnes of Carbon dioxide emissions over the period 2000‑18.

Noting with appreciation, that the Government of India has been striving hard to make India’s power generation sector sustainable in the forthcoming years. Being a renewable energy enthusiast, I believe that these policies that are being initiated by the Government of India can make India global leaders in the renewable energy sector. The citizens of the country must ensure that they reduce their individual carbon footprint by switching to renewable sources of energy from the existing conventional sources of energy.


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Hemanth Kumar J

Horizonite’15, Deekashaite’17, RITian’21, A proud Cinephile, Mechanical Engineering Graduate, A die-hard MUFC fan, Photographer, MUNner, Meme Creator.