Could India become the world’s next leader in solar power generation? In principle, if we take their plans and words seriously, the country might well bypass the US and why not even Germany in the coming decade. In practice, it remains to be seen.
It was about two years ago when India’s solar targets set by the National Solar Mission began to change drastically. Initially the aim was relatively modest and seemed very much in reach- 20 GW by 2020. In 2012, the country decided to bump up this numbers and set a goal of 33.4 GW. Now, not even two complete years later, the aim is that by 2022 they will hit the 100 GW benchmark, same as EU, and leaving US far behind.
It does sound slightly unrealistic at first, but it seems the Indians mean business. In the coming few years, the Indian government is planning to invest as much as $1 billion in renewable energy. At the same time, the country has also managed to secure external funding from the World Bank, making that target a lot more realistic than it might seem.
The currently ruling government is giving all the support solar could possibly need, and this became extremely visible as soon as the prime minister Narendra Modi stepped into position. The news were flooded with titles like “World’s Largest Solar Power Plant to be Built In India”, “Solar Power Program to Bring Electricity to 400 Million of India’s Poorest” and “World’s Largest Floating Solar Power Plant Under Construction in Southern India“, showing that it is not ‘just words and no action’.
A big challenge in front of India is to tackle the high price of solar in relation to the much preferred cheap coal. Although the heated talks on climate change and fossil fuels almost guarantee that the prices of coal will inevitably rise, a lot is still to be done before this polluting energy source is erased from the energy picture.
But all these efforts come to show that even in poor countries like India, where it is extremely difficult to control pollution and make renewable energy a preferred choice, there is light in the end of the tunnel, and it might be much closer than initially thought.
Image (c) Reuters