India’s rapidly growing population and economy are creating a huge demand for electricity, prompting the government to subsidize solar power projects in a bid to encourage corporations to invest $90 billion over five years. In a country blessed with an abundance of sunshine, the only sensible option is to implement solar power. The good news is that India’s total installed solar capacity has gone from about 3 GW in 2014 to about 25 GW in 2018. But there’s still a long way to go.
Solar Energy #Goals
The International Solar Alliance (ISA) aims to create 1,000 GW of solar power capacity by 2030, and intends to raise $1 trillion for this endeavor. The ISA is working to promote the use of solar pumps in farms, replacing diesel ones, promote the use of mini-grids, and procure financing for member countries to meet their solar energy goals. India’s own goal is to raise solar power capacity to 100 GW by 2022.
With the US withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, there is a seat open at the head table of climate leadership and India is very well poised to take that seat. With the ISA being here, if the ISA will prove itself to be a game changer in the way energy markets evolve, in giving more people access to energy… then India emerges as a leader of climate action.
-Kanika Chawla, Renewable Energy Expert at Delhi-based nonprofit Council on Energy.
India is also leading the way when it comes to solar parks. Half of the world’s 10 largest solar parks currently under construction are in India. China may have the largest- the Tengger Desert Solar Park produces approximately 1,547 MW- but India looks poised to race ahead in early 2019 upon the completion of the 2,225 MW facility at Bhadla, Rajasthan.
The shift to 100% solar won’t be an easy one, especially with the government imposing a 25% tariff to protect domestic manufacturers. But with good reason: 90% of India’s solar panels are currently from China or Malaysia. Hardly a circumstance promoting the ‘Make In India’ initiative.
But the main issue that domestic players face is manufacturing and technology. Some of the components required to build solar panels are not even manufactured by Indian solar panel makers.
Even the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has stated that the domestic sector is not being fully utilized due to obsolete technology. They’ve also stated that the “price of solar equipment produced in the country is not competitive as compared to that of foreign manufacturers, especially Chinese manufacturers.”
A Bright Future
It’s not all doom and gloom. Solar energy has already had a positive impact, especially in rural communities where electricity has long been a luxury rather than a staple.
We must reduce our dependency on coal- and natural gas-based power. These lead to deadly emissions like carbon dioxide (the great villain in the climate change saga), sulfur dioxide, nitrous dioxide and particulate matter (all air pollutants that cause respiratory problems).
Solar energy will not only clean up the environment, but also our lungs!