Whose land is it anyway? Energy futures & land use in India


Modelling studies which project pathways for the future of energy in India currently have several implicit assumptions with regards to the social, institutional, and political changes necessary for energy transitions. This paper focuses on the specific question of land use change required for realising ambitious clean energy targets. Demand for land is likely to be a critical question in India’s energy future given the challenges with land acquisition in the country as a result of high population density and significant rights enjoyed by landowners. Yet, there is a lack of literature relevant to India which makes a quantitative assessment of the land use impacts of different types of low carbon technologies. I calculate and compare the land requirements in India of ground based solar photovoltaic (PV) power, nuclear power, and wind energy. All three types of technologies are expected to grow substantially as a share of India’s electricity mix in the coming years. The analysis suggests that land demands of ground based solar PV are likely to be substantial compared to wind energy and nuclear power, and some policy suggestions are provided which may help mitigate that challenge.

Energy Policy
Aniruddh Mohan
Aniruddh Mohan
Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow