by Deborah Frempong
The Indian government’s desire to increase solar power installations comes from a combination of factors, namely, a growing economy with an expanding middle class, the declining costs of Photovoltaic panels, and the rising costs of grid power. The need for more affordable sources of energy is felt greatly by India’s industries, and with its dense population and high solar insolation, it is a more than suitable area for solar energy.
India’s solar projects will take form in many ways, a first of these being the provision of electricity for rural areas. According to statistics there are about 80,000 rural villages with no electricity in India. Rural villages are therefore areas of high priority for the solar projects that the Indian government hopes to undertake. For household items such as lamps and water heaters, the government of India provides subsidies on alternative solar powered tools and equipment. The move to solar energy is also very prominent in India’s agricultural sector, with solar powered irrigation systems that are used not only for plants, but also as drinking water for animals.
The Indian government has appropriately responded to these demands in the economy, and in 2010, set up the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM), a committee with the goal of 20GW installed by 2022. The US$19 billion plan was regarded to be lofty, especially in light of the realities of India’s socio-economic status. Over the years since this announcement, progress on the project has been varied, with state initiatives installing 50% of grid-connected solar power, and the central government or JNNSM, installing about 26%. In an attempt to increase the success of the JNNSM program, the president of the JNNSM expanded the goals of the program, hoping to reach a target of about 15 GW by 2019. This means that the JNNSM has also specifically targeted several states where soar projects will be started. Throughout the country, for instance, Gujarat remains a leader in the solar power project and provides about 2/3rd of the 900 megawatts of solar energy that is produced by the country. In terms of research, the government has also set us Solar Radiation Resource Assessment Stations to investigate the potential for solar energy usage in different places. It also provides subsidies for private solar panel installation companies, as well as a 70% subsidy on the installation cost in North-East states and a 30% one in other states.
India’s efforts towards building a more sustainable and durable energy solution are impressive, but will not be easy, considering the challenges in terms of resources such as land and funding. In light of this, President Obama’s pledge to India provides the potential for the project to be accelerated, and to reach its target year. It is an indicator to the Indian government and invested shareholders that the move towards a sustainable energy is important, and while just a promise, the commitment has great implications for the future of solar energy in India, and for India’s economy as a whole.
Indian Power Sector. (n.d.). Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission targets 20,000MW by 2022 . Retrieved from NATIONAL SOLAR MISSION : http://indianpowersector.com/electricity-regulation/national-solar-mission/
Mittal, S. (n.d.). India Expands Solar Power Target, Will Add 15 GW Over Next Five Years . Retrieved from Clean Technica: http://cleantechnica.com/2014/10/19/india-expands-solar-power-target-will-add-15-gw-next-five-years/
Mukherjee, K., & Fogarty, D. (n.d.). India to unveil 20GW solar target under climate plan . Retrieved from REUTERS: http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/07/28/idUSDEL104230