The vast, cricket-loving nation of India, now the most populous nation on earth after overtaking China in 2022, has been a leading location for carbon credit projects for some time now. As the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, it’s a good thing they have embraced carbon offsets in the way they have.
In the Voluntary Carbon Market alone, just under 300 million carbon credits have been issued from India at our last data counting.
The carbon market is positively thriving thanks to ambitious goals set by the government. The country aims to reduce emissions intensity of GDP by 33-35 percent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels as part of its commitments under the Paris Agreement. This has driven growth in various carbon offset programs under the United Nations’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) as well as voluntary carbon markets.
This article features a ranking of the top carbon offset projects in India making the biggest impact on emissions. The list includes projects across renewable energy, cookstove efficiency, waste management and forestry. Each entry contains key statistics as well as a description of the project’s operations and significance. Together these projects showcase India’s leadership and innovation in leveraging carbon markets to create environmental, economic and social benefits.
12. Vaayu India Wind Power Project in Gujarat
The Vaayu India Wind Power Project, located in the state of Gujarat in India, has leveraged carbon credit funding to develop a 51.2 MW wind farm. The project involves the supply, erection, commissioning and operation of 64 machines with a rated capacity of 800 KW each. The machines are Wind World E-53 models.
The project will generate 115.312 GWh of electricity per year which will be supplied to the state electricity utility, thereby contributing to reducing the energy demand-supply gap in Gujarat. The project will assist the sustainable growth of the region by providing clean and green electricity to the state electricity grid.
11. Improved Cook Stoves and Sustainable Charcoal Initiative
The Improved Cookstoves and Sustainable Charcoal Initiative aims to reduce fuel wood consumption and indoor air pollution from traditional stoves in West Bengal, India. The project disseminates improved cook stoves of the micro gasifier stove type to traditional stove users at subsidized prices.
In addition, the project provides users of conventional charcoal with charcoal generated as a byproduct in the wood gasifier stoves. This reduces consumption of conventional charcoal.
The improved cook stoves use advanced combustion technology and insulated material to increase heat transfer efficiency compared to traditional stoves. This means less fuel wood is needed to cook the same amount of food. The gasifier stoves also generate charcoal that can displace conventional charcoal production.
By providing access to cleaner, safer and more sustainable cookstoves, the project improves health, empowers women, and benefits the environment. The estimated 64,152 tonnes of annual emission reductions generate revenue through carbon credits to help scale up the project across India. This innovative model demonstrates how a basic technology can transform lives while fighting climate change.
10. Improved Cookstoves in Karnataka
Another cookstove project, the Improved Cookstoves in Karnataka project provides access to clean, efficient cooking solutions across the state of Karnataka in India. This project distributes improved cookstoves that utilize advanced combustion technology to maximize heat transfer and reduce harmful emissions. These new stoves require less fuel, thereby reducing deforestation pressure and providing health benefits by minimizing indoor air pollution from traditional cooking fires.
Karnataka is an ideal location for implementing clean cookstoves, as over 80% of the population relies on biomass for cooking fuel. The locally-made stoves are specially designed for the needs and cooking customs of communities across the state. Households receive hands-on training and support to properly maintain and operate their new stoves. The more efficient burning significantly lowers black carbon and greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional stoves.
This carbon offset project is registered under the Gold Standard and is estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 40,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent annually. Beyond the climate benefits, the project provides rural communities access to safer, cleaner and more efficient cooking while reducing pressure on local natural resources.
9. Clean energy technology in rural areas of Punjab
Yet another cookstove project, but slightly different to the others on this list, this Indian carbon credit project aims to replace the commonly used inefficient wood fired mud stove technology, with clean biogas based cook stoves, which is clean and sustainable. The project activity involves bundling household biogas plants located in the state of Punjab, India. Each household will utilize the dung of its cows to feed the digester for the production of biogas for domestic purposes. The generated biogas from the plants to be used for the purpose of cooking and other thermal energy needs in households.
The thermal energy generated from the project activity replaces the equal amount of thermal energy which otherwise would have been supplied from the woody biomass (fire-wood) based stove technology. Therefore, the project activity replaces firewood for equal thermal energy needs and thereby reduces harmful greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Estimated annual emission reductions: 59,284
The benefits of biogas technology include:
- Provides a clean, renewable energy source for cooking and heating
- Reduces indoor air pollution and health risks from traditional stoves
- Decreases reliance on fuelwood, allowing reforestation
- Produces an organic fertilizer byproduct that can be used to enhance soils
- Avoids methane emissions that occur from manure decomposition
8. India Organic Waste Management Program
The India Organic Waste Management Programme (IOWMP) is an innovative project focused on managing organic waste sustainably across India. It does this through the widespread distribution of biogas plants that can process organic waste at the domestic, community, and institutional level.
Whilst it’s not a massive project in carbon credit terms, it’s always good to see climate projects in the waste to energy, because its a double benefit of removing waste and creating green energy.
A key aspect of the programme is its aim to be implemented nationally in phases across various states in India. It plans to utilize different models of biogas units to suit the diverse contexts and needs of communities across the country. With flexible and localized solutions, the IOWMP can scale up organic waste management using appropriate biogas technologies for the Indian context.
By tackling organic waste at the source through biogas digestion, the programme prevents the waste from ending up in landfills and turning to methane. This innovative application of biogas technology offers a sustainable waste management solution while also generating renewable energy and reducing fossil fuel use.
Estimated carbon credits: 10,000 per annum
7. 300 MW Wind Power Project in Gujarat
The Gujarat wind power project by Alfanar Power is the company’s ambitious renewable energy production venture located in the Kutch district of Gujarat. Alfanar installed 301.4 MW of wind power capacity across a massive field of 136 wind turbines. The project consists of 22 turbines rated at 2.3 MW each, as well as 114 turbines rated at 2.2 MW each.
This immense wind farm stretches across the Laximpar village area of Kutch. The wind resource at this region of Gujarat makes it an ideal location for utility-scale wind power. Each of the 136 wind turbines converts the kinetic energy of the wind into emissions-free electricity.
The estimated annual energy production is 702,700 MWh, enough to power over 300,000 households. All the electricity generated will feed into the Indian national grid. Alfanar Power has signed a 25-year power purchase agreement with the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) to sell the renewable energy produced.
Given the immense scale of the project and its contribution to clean energy in India, the Alfanar wind farm exemplifies the tremendous potential of renewable energy to meet India’s growing electricity demand in a sustainable manner. This project provides a blueprint for how wind power can scale in India to supply increasing amounts of affordable and reliable energy.
6. Waste heat recovery based power plant in Chanderia
Hindustan Zinc Limited (HZL) is a leading integrated producer of zinc in India that manufactures 275,000 tons per year of refined zinc using both pyrometallurgical and hydrometallurgical processes.
To meet the high electricity demand of its zinc smelting operations, HZL actually built an entire coal power plant in Chanderiya to power operations. HZL implemented a waste heat recovery based power plant that captures waste heat from its smelting operations. The waste heat is used to produce high pressure steam, which powers a condensing steam turbine generator.
By utilizing waste heat that would have been released into the atmosphere, the project reduces coal consumption in HZL’s captive power plant. So while this is a coal power plant which is obviously not great for the environment, waste heat recovery is essential for power plants to implement. The project was registered as a Clean Development Mechanism project in 2013 and is estimated to reduce 51,609 tons of CO2 annually.
5. India Sunderbans Mangrove Restoration
Great to see a high quality mangrove restoration project occuring in India, given that mangroves are such incredibly efficient carbon sinks.
This reforestation project is located in the Sundarban Delta region of India, which is the largest contiguous mangrove forest in the world. The Sundarbans span across Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, covering approximately 4 million hectares. The Indian Sundarbans makes up roughly 40% of the total mangrove forest area.
This community initiative aims to provide a new financing mechanism through carbon offsets to contribute positively to wetland restoration in the Sundarbans. The goals are to overcome current barriers and allow local communities to benefit from mangrove reforestation activities and the carbon market.
The project is expected to sequester over 50,000 tons of CO2 annually through restoring 8,750 hectares of degraded mangrove forests. In addition to climate benefits, the restored mangroves will help protect coastal communities from increased storm surges and sea level rise exacerbated by climate change. Local communities will be engaged in mangrove nurseries and planting activities to aid restoration and provide alternative livelihoods.
4. Reforestation of degraded land by MTPL
The proposed CDM project activity by MTPL involves carbon sequestration of degraded lands through reforestation activities. The project encompasses 12,437 parcels of land measuring 14,969 hectares owned by 12,002 farmers distributed in seven districts across three states – Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh – a great co-ownership example! The majority of the land, around 83%, is located in Odisha. 14% of the project area is in Andhra Pradesh and only 3% in Chhattisgarh.
Many discrete parcels of degraded land are owned by small and poor farmers/tribal communities who do not have the capability of plantation without any external financial support and technical guidance. These lands are reforested under the Farm Forestry Scheme by providing the farmers support. The project provides greenhouse gas mitigation benefits by reforesting degraded lands.
Reforestation provides so many benefits for the environment. Planting trees helps remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in biomass and soils. Reforestation also helps stabilize soils, regulate water runoff, create habitat for wildlife, and provide sustainable sources of food, fuel, and income for local communities. By planting native tree species, this project will help restore biodiversity and ecosystem functions. The addition of over 14,000 hectares of forest cover will sequester significant amounts of carbon each year. Local farmers will benefit from training and employment opportunities as well as potential income from non-timber forest products. Overall, this large-scale reforestation initiative will help mitigate climate change while improving environmental conditions and supporting sustainable livelihoods.
3. SHINE Distribution of LED lightbulbs in Bihar
Carbon offset type : Energy demand
This was a proposed small-scale grouped project activity (well, as small scale as things get in India) that involved the distribution of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) for domestic lighting in Bihar, a region in the East of India. Bihar sits on the border of India with Nepal, and while it has the third largest population of any state in India, it sits 14th in GDP, making it a relatively poor state compared to others, hence investment from a carbon offset project like this is badly needed, making this a very worthwhile project.
Estimated Annual Emission Reductions: 952,806
2. 8MW biomass based power plant at Phagwara
Carbon offset type : Energy industries (renewable/non-renewable sources)
India has long been known for its rich history of producing fabrics and manufacturing for the global textile industry, so its great to see carbon credit project like this one, which is located at the JCT textile mills in the state of Punjab, India. It involves the installation of a rice husk based cogeneration plant for captive power generation. The project activity which is based on a carbon neutral fuel generates electricity and steam to meet JCT’s in-house electricity requirement thereby replacing an equivalent amount of electricity the plant would have drawn from the Northern grid. The project activity will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced by the regional grid which is dominated by fossil fuel based power plants. Although small in emissions, it’s the type of sustainable energy production project that needs to occur more and more, wherever it’s possible, if the planet is ever going to achieve its net zero emission goals.
Estimated Annual Emission Reductions: 29,393
1. Teesta- V Hydro Power project in Sikkim
Carbon offset type : Energy industries (renewable/non-renewable sources)
This is a monster hydro-electric carbon offset project located in the eastern part of India, that has generated more than 2 million carbon credits. The implementing agency for the project is National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Limited (NHPC), making this an Indian government run carbon credit initiative. The Teesta HE project – Stage V is a run of the river scheme and will be producing a staggering 2572.67 MU of energy that will be absorbed into the Eastern region, connected to the NEWNE grid. Stage V of the Teesta river project has installed a capacity of 510 MW (3×170 MW turbines). The power house is located near Singtam. The dependable discharge available throughout the year has been assessed as 60 cumecs and gross head available is 216.73 m (technically, referred to as a lot) with installed capacity of 510 MW.
In infrastructure terms, the project consists of concrete gravity dam across the Teesta river with a 15 km long head race tunnel and an underground power housing three generating units of 170 MW capacity each.
Great to see some strong infrastructure development around renewable energy being partially funded through carbon credits. The planet simply can’t lose if we just keep building green energy production.
Estimated Annual Emission Reductions: 2,044,442
So that’s all we have for India, but with over 1,500 Indian carbon credit projects having already been issued or in the works from major carbon market players such as Gold Standard and Verra, we could have easily 50 more to this list.
If you’re looking for a region to invest in for your carbon credit requirements, look no further than India. There is a strong understanding of what it takes for carbon credit success in the market, and if you need help identifying what the best quality up and coming projects with the right type of co-benefits to make it attractive, contact Carbondash for a no-cost carbon credit consultation.