During his tenure as chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi pushed solar companies to build more than 900MW of solar power in the state. That he is keen to do much more now across the country was made amply clear on Sunday when he said that India has the potential to lead the world in the renewable energy and described the narrowing difference between the cost of solar and conventional energy as a “game changer”.
Speaking at the inauguration of a three-day global conference, he added that the price of solar energy has tumbled from Rs 20 a unit to Rs 7, bringing it close to conventional power and India should harness this opportunity to move away from dirty fossil fuels and also meet the energy requirements of the poor. Mr Modi told the audience that India is working on a plan to build a consortium of 50 nations to join research in solar energy to improve accessibility to the poor and in remote areas.
In an earlier interview, power minister Piyush Goyal had said that the NDA would smash the UPA’s target of 20,000MW of solar by 2022. At present, India has just 33 Gigawatt of clean energy capacity, with 22 Gigawatt from wind, about 3,000 Megawatt from solar energy and the remaining from small hydro and biomass projects.
India’s total power generation capacity is more than 250,000MW, and most of the electricity is generated from coal-fired power plants.
India is not the only country that is looking to augment its clean energy sources: New installations have been doubling every two years across the world. China alone has installed a record 12,000MW in 2013. One of the main reasons for the slow installation of solar panels had been the price but panel costs have plummeted down almost 80% since 2008.
In India, one of the key obstacles for solar will be land. And for the government to fulfil its promise of meeting its solar power generation targets, it must give a mega push to rooftop solar power generation. This will not only cut costs but also decentralise the generation of solar power.