By 2022, India aims to install 175 GW Renewable Energy (RE) capacity. Our analysis reveals that this will need close to 12.5 million hectares of land – an area equal to the size of Telangana or the nation of Austria. If India advances RE with the singular aim of maximizing resource potential, this could threaten more than 1 million hectares of forest land and 5 million hectares of agricultural land by conversion.
But there is good news! Our analysis also shows that India has 12 times the land needed to achieve solar and wind goals by using degraded lands with low social or ecological values. With careful planning, India can avoid land conflicts that risk investment in RE and slow its expansion, which also containing adverse impacts on people and biodiversity.