When people think about fast-growing developing countries which generate a lot of carbon emissions, they typically think of China. After all, it’s the world’s largest carbon emitter.
But with over a billion people, India is the third-biggest emitter — and with over a billion people, it has the potential to quickly overtake the US in the number two spot. India isn’t building coal-fired power stations at the same breakneck pace as China — in fact, much of its emission come from soot from wood-burning stoves. Nevertheless, as India continues to grow and industrialise, it’s vital that it weans itself off fossil fuels and onto renewable energy.
So, it’s great news that the same drops in solar energy costs that are happening across the world are also affecting India. So much so, that solar power in India is now cheaper than diesel.
Well, some solar power, anyway. To be specific, the solar power provided by French solar company Solairedirect. They’re offering power to India’s national grid for 14c (US) per kWH, less than the average 25c cost of diesel, Renewable Energy World reports.
The great thing about solar energy at this moment in time is that its rapid growth is leading to an equally rapid drop in prices. There’s some disagreement about whether Solairedirect can actually sell solar profitably at this price, but they’re not alone — four companies offered prices lower than the typical cost of diesel.
The bids are being submitted as part of the ‘Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission,’ a government scheme which is set to allocate funding for 20,000 MW of solar power over the next ten years. According to Renewable Energy World, the gradual allocation of this solar capacity should mean that solar becomes the cheapest form of energy in India within the next two years. That’s not just good news because it means more renewables, but because it means a likely shrinkage of India’s reliance on diesel, a $2.32-billion industry in India.
Expect to see more measures like this one from the Indian government, now that it has agreed to discuss signing up to a successor of the Kyoto Protocol by 2020.
India, however, was the most determined holdout against agreeing to discuss such a treaty — yes, even more so than the United States — at the UN climate change conference in Durban, South Africa last week. And it hasn’t entirely changed its mind. Indian Environment Minister Jayanathi Natarajan, today, was at pains to point out that his government hasn’t agreed to any legally-binding emissions reductions — merely to discuss agreeing to some. Yes, they agreed to discuss agreeing. So goes the glacial pace of international diplomacy.
To see how India’s solar aspirations match up with the rest of the Asia-Pacific region, see Asian Pacific Solar Booming, Especially in China.
Small-scale solar plant in Gurgaon, India courtesy Ggn77 on Wikimedia Commons.
Rav is a London-based freelance journalist passionate about climate change, development and technology. He has written for the Daily Express, Excite.co.uk and the Fly. He blogs at ravcasleygera.wordpress.com.