Clean Energy RD&D investments

India is a founding member of Mission Innovation and successfully led three MI Innovation Challenges viz. Smart Grids, Off Grid Access to Electricity and Sustainable Biofuels. India actively participated in all other MI challenges and is a Steering Committee member. India recognizes the importance of addressing the energy-related challenges facing the country and globe in an environmentally benign cost effective manner. Energy security, reduced pollution, access to electricity for our people who currently lack it and reduced emissions are some of issues which Indian government considers necessary for reducing the adverse impacts of climate change. By undertaking funding opportunity announcements under various MI challenges, India actively invested in Research, development and demonstration in environmentally friendly, energy efficient clean energy technologies.

Investments have been made through various collaboration models (Joint Funding Calls) involving the public, private sector, national laboratories, universities and international partners. Under the collaborative R&D programme, India funded 75 joint R&D projects with participation of various MI member countries (funding opportunity announcement of US $ 17 Million jointly by – Department of Biotechnology and Department of Science and Technology, Govt of India). This included Joint R&D projects in sustainable biofuels (IC4 – 14 projects), Carbon capture and utilisation (IC3- 22 projects) and Sunlight Innovation (IC5 – 13 projects). Under the Innovation Challenge on Smart Grids and Off Grids (IC1 and IC2) India funded 26 Projects & 3 virtual centers. The clean energy investment witnessed an exponentially hike during the last five years and a major portion of expenditure in Clean Energy RD&D budget was made by different ministries like Petroleum and Natural gas, Power, Science & Technology etc. For example, about 5000 commercial compressed biogas plants have also been planned for supply to transport sector under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural gas. Two pilot scale plants at approx. INR 1000 million have been established for production of mixture of Hydrogen and Methane for trials in automobiles. To promote low carbon biofuels, Government of India provided INR 1500 million per plant as viability gap funding. This is in addition to support several pilot plants which are given a funding of INR 100 millions. Department of Biotechnology invested heavily in enzyme R&D for 2G ethanol production.  INR 1000 million have been established for production of mixture of Hydrogen and methane for trials in automobiles.  Department of Biotechnology established 5 bioenergy research centres for advanced biofuel R&D at an approx. cost of INR 500 million per year. These efforts have led to development of trained human resource to carry forward clean energy technology development.  India spear headed the Global Cooling Prize to develop a 5 times lesser climate impact cooling solution, an initiative lauded as one of the major success stories of MI 1.0.

As one of the world’s fastest growing major economy, India’s energy demand is set to grow about 35% until 2030. India has set a target of producing 175 Giga-Watts of energy from renewable sources by 2022.This includes 100 Giga-Watts from Solar Energy and another 75 Giga-Watts from Wind, biomass and other sources. It plans to increase its target for renewable energy to 450 GW by 2030. Mission programmes on clean coal technologies, alternative fuels such as methanol and Di-Methyl Ether(DME), Energy Storage Materials, Building Energy Efficiency and Hydrogen Economy are helping India fulfill its commitment for a Clean Fuel. Such national missions would help foster long-term technology innovation growth in these areas.

India, hosts the International Solar Alliance (ISA), an international inter-governmental organization, aiming at mobilizing more than USD 1000 billion of investment needed by 2030 for the massive deployment of solar energy. ISA’s objective is to scale up solar energy, reduce the cost of solar power generation through aggregation of demand for solar finance, technologies, innovation, research and development, and capacity building.


Specific plans to increase clean energy RD&D investments involve intensifying research efforts on:

  • Promoting India-centric innovation for clean energy proliferation
  • National, bilateral, and multilateral joint virtual centres on clean energy themes (see Department of Biotechnology and Department of Science and Technology)
  • Setting up of technology platforms led by industry for clean energy technologies
  • Scaled-up funding to academic and R&D institutions as well as R&D units in industry for research on identified topics relevant to clean energy
  • National, bilateral, and multilateral capacity building programs in clean energy
  • Demand-oriented mission programs on clean energy technologies
  • Developing models for last mile connectivity for technology leads obtained through R&D
  • Setting up demonstration models/pilot plants for developed technologies (see Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of New and Renewable Energyand Department of Science and Technology)
  • Working with all stakeholders to translate research outputs for end-use deployment

Research areas of interest

Areas of emphasis for Clean Energy R&D include the following:

  • Energy efficiency (industry; residential and commercial buildings, appliances and equipment; transport)
  • Renewable energy sources (solar energy, on-shore wind energy, off-shore wind energy, ocean energy, biofuels, geothermal energy, hydroelectricity, other renewable energy sources)
  • Hydrogen and fuel cells; other power and storage technologies (electric power generation including advanced but non-renewable; electricity transmission and distribution
  • Energy storage; non-transport applications; smart grids)
  • Cleaner fossil energy (clean coal technology,
  • Advance Biofuels and Bio refineries – Biomass to methanol, bio-hydrogen, biojet fuel,  maritime, algal fuel
  • Other cross-cutting technologies in Carbon Capture, Utilisation or research (energy system analysis, basic energy research that cannot be allocated to a specific category).
  • Biobased chemicals and materials, Alternatives to single use plastic

There are several key government departments and research agencies engaged in research, development, and demonstration of clean energy and the major contributors are: