Clean Power

Published on August 21st, 2014 | by Guest Contributor


Can India Achieve 100% Renewable Energy?

August 21st, 2014 by  

Energy Central.
Darshan Goswami.

By 2050, India could rely entirely on renewable energy to create a sustainable energy future.


In the coming years, India will face seemingly insurmountable challenges to its economy, environment and energy security.  To overcome these challenges India needs to shift to non-polluting sources of energy.  As Jeremy Rifkin, an economist and activist, said in New Delhi in January 2012,  “India is the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy sources and, if properly utilized, India can realize its place in the world as a great power,” and adding “but political will is required for the eventual shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy.”  The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) also has recommended that the world needs a major shift in investments from fossil fuels to renewable energy in order to curb greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

India has tremendous energy needs and it is becoming increasingly difficult to meet those needs through traditional means of power generation.  Over 40% of rural Indian households don’t have electricity.  While India is developing domestic energy sources to satisfy the growing demand, it is also anxious about having to import increasing amounts of fossil fuels that exacerbate the trade deficit and can be harmful to the environment.  Coal imports hit a record high during the last fiscal year and will likely rise further over the next five years since India aims to expand its power-generation capacity by 44%.

The country’s inability to generate clean, affordable power is also a major constraint to achieving energy security.  The present centralized model of power generation, transmission and distribution is growing more and more costly to maintain and, at the same time, restricts the flexibility required to meet growing energy demands.  India needs to encourage a decentralized business model in order to more readily take advantage of abundantly available renewable energy sources like solar, wind, hydropower, biomass, biogas, geothermal and hydrogen energy, and fuel cells.  India is blessed with an abundance of these resources, yet it spends millions of rupees to import oil, coal, and natural gas resulting in enormous amounts of renewable energy being unused/wasted.  To that end, renewable resources are the most attractive investment because they will also provide long-term economic growth for India.

To secure its energy future, India urgently needs to design/implement innovative policies and mechanisms that promote increased use of abundant, sustainable, renewable resources.  All of India’s future energy demand could be met by utility-scale and rooftop PV, concentrated solar power, onshore and offshore wind, geothermal, and conventional hydropower.  This would require building many more solar power systems and wind farms, hybrid solar-natural gas plants, solar thermal storage and advanced battery-based grid energy storage systems.  Investment in these technologies would create millions of new jobs and an economic stimulus of at least US $1 trillion, and perhaps much more if all indirect (ripple) effects are included.  Other major changes involve use of electric vehicles and the development of enhanced Smart Grids.  Making the transition to 100% renewable energy is both possible and affordable, but requires political support.

What needs to be done?

Instead of an overarching energy strategy India has a number of disparate policies.  To date, India has developed a cluster of energy business models and policies that have obstructed adoption of renewable energy expansion plans.  This present approach threatens India’s economic competitiveness, national security and the environment.  India must fundamentally transform the manner in which it produces, distributes and consumes energy to reduce its dependence on foreign oil, create jobs, enhance global competitiveness and decrease carbon emissions.

The Government of India has taken several measurable steps toward improving infrastructure and power reliability (such as development of renewable energy from solar and wind), clearly more needs to be done, and fast.  One step in the right direction was the establishment of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) in late 2009.  However, the present JNNSM target of producing 10% of the country’s energy from solar − 20GW by 2022 − is totally inadequate.  JNNSM needs to take bolder steps, with the help of central and state Governments, in order to play a greater role in realizing India’s solar energy potential.  One such step would be establishment of a nationwide solar initiative to facilitate deployment of 100 million solar roofs and utility-scale generation installations within the next 20 years.  In achieving such a goal, India could become a major player and international leader in solar energy for years to come.

In addition, developing off-grid powered micro-grids have the potential to change the way communities generate and use energy, and can reduce costs, increase reliability and improve environmental performance.  Micro-grids can be used to take substantial electrical load off the existing power grid and so reduce the need for building new or expanding existing transmission and distribution systems.

Renewable Energy Potential in India

renewable energy india

Renewable energy is the only technology that offers India the theoretical potential to service all its long-term power requirements.  The Indian subcontinent is blessed with abundant renewable energy resources.  For instance, taking advantage of 300-330 sunny days a year, India could easily generate 5000 trillion kWh of solar energy, which is higher than India’s total yearly energy consumption.  Even if a tenth of this potential was utilized, it could mark the end of India’s power problems.  Using the country’s deserts and farm land, India could easily install around 1,000 GW of solar generation – equivalent to around four times the current peak power demand (India’s present generation capacity is about 210 GW).

Wind energy can also help India convert to 100% renewable energy.  According to the environmental group World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), while India has no estimates of its offshore wind potential, up to 170 GW could be installed by 2050 along the 7,500 km of coastline.  Hydropower could generate an estimated 148 GW, Geothermal around 10.7 GW and Tidal power about 15 GW.  If these abundantly available resources were properly developed and utilized, all of India’s new energy production could be derived from renewable energy sources by 2030.  In addition, all existing generation could be converted to renewable energy by 2050 while maintaining a reliable power supply in the interim.  Barriers to implementing the renewable energy plan are seen to be primarily social and political, not technological or economic.

10 Strategies that India can Implement, Beginning Today:

To reach the goal of 100% of renewable energy by 2050 the following steps are recommended.

  • 1. Aggressively expand large-scale deployment of both centralized and distributed renewable energy including solar, wind, hydro, biomass, and geothermal to ease the strain on the present transmission and distribution system – and allow more off-grid populations to be reached. Facilitate growth in large scale deployment by installing 100 million solar roofs and large utility-scale solar generation, through both centralized and distributed energy within the next 20 years;
  • 2. Enact a National Renewable Energy Standard/Policy of 20% by 2020 – to create demand, new industries and innovation, and a new wave of green jobs;
  • 3. Develop favorable government policies to ease the permitting process, and to provide start-up capital to promote the exponential growth of renewable energy.  Create and fund a national smart infrastructure bank for renewable energy;
  • 4. Accelerate local demand for renewable energy by providing preferential Feed-in-Tariffs (FIT) and other incentives such as accelerated depreciation; tax holidays; renewable energy funds; initiatives for international partnerships/collaboration, incentives for new technologies; human resources development; zero import duty on capital equipment and raw materials; excise duty exemption; and low-interest rate loans.
  • 5. Phase out all conventional energy subsidies. Force petroleum products to compete with other fuels like biomass and biogas, etc.;
  • 6. Accelerate the development and implementation of cost-effective energy efficiency standards to reduce the long-term demand for energy. Engage States, industrial companies, utility companies, and other stakeholders to accelerate this investment;
  • 7. Initiate a move to electrify automotive transportation or develop Electric Vehicles – plug-in hybrids – such as the Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S, or Chevy Volt, etc.  Develop and implement time-of-day pricing to encourage charging of cars at night.  Adopt nationwide charging of electric cars from solar panels on roofs, and solar-powered Electric Vehicle charging stations around the country. Thousands of these solar-powered recharging stations could spread across India just like the present public call office (PCO), giving birth to the “Green Revolution.” These recharging connections could be deployed at highly-concentrated areas including shopping malls, motels, restaurants, and public places where vehicles are usually parked for extended periods;
  • 8. Aggressively invest in a smart, two-way grid (and micro-grid). Invest in smart meters, as well as reliable networks that can accommodate the two-way flow of electricity.  Such networks need to be resilient enough to avoid blackouts and accommodate the advanced power generation technologies of the future;
  • 9. Develop large-scale solar manufacturing in India (transforming India into a global solar manufacturing hub).  Promote and establish utility-scale solar and wind generation parks and farms.  Also, establish R&D facilities within academia, research institutions, industry, government and private entities to guide technology development.
  • 10. Work towards a Hydrogen Economy development plan. Hydrogen can be fed into fuel cells for generating heat and electricity – as well as for powering fuel cell vehicles.  Produce hydrogen from renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. If done successfully, hydrogen and electricity will eventually become society’s primary energy carriers for the twenty-first century.


Renewable forms of energy (especially solar and wind) could enhance India’s energy security and represent a bright spot in its economic and environmental future. If India switched from coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear power plants, it is possible that 70% of the electricity and 35% of its total energy could be derived from renewable resources by 2030.

Excess energy generated from renewable could be stored in various forms such as molten or liquid salt (a mixture of sodium nitrate and potassium nitrate); compressed air; pumped hydro; hydrogen, battery storage, etc. This stored energy could then be used during times of peak demand.

India can ramp up its efforts to develop and implement large utility-scale solar energy farms to meet the country’s economic development goals, while creating energy independence and bringing potentially enormous environmental benefits.  Both issues have a direct influence on national security and the health of the Indian economy.

Supplying almost 100 % of India’s energy demand through the use of clean renewable energy from solar, wind, hydro and biogas, etc. by 2050 is technically and economically feasible.  But, a number of political barriers must be overcome.  As examples of needed reforms, Denmark’s Parliament has passed the most ambitious green economy plan to generate 35% of its energy from renewable energy by 2020 and 100% by 2050.  Iceland, Scotland and the Philippines, have recently announced impressive plans to obtain 100% of their power from renewable energy. Three years after Japan’s nuclear meltdown, the Japanese province of Fukushima has pledged to switch to 100% renewable energy by 2040.

A future powered by renewable energy is already here, not decades away. Comparisons of costs per kilowatt-hour of electricity produced show that newly built solar and wind plants are already considerably cheaper than new nuclear plants.  In coming years solar and wind energy will compete more and more favorably with conventional energy generation and, in places such as California and Italy, have already reached so-called “grid parity.”

Renewable Energy (especially solar and wind) is a game-changer for India: It has the potential to re-energize India’s economy by creating millions of new jobs, achieve energy independence, reduce the trade deficit and propel India forward as a “Green Nation.”  Providing 100% renewable energy is not a fantasy for someday, but a reality today.  India has a golden opportunity to solve three huge problems – reducing poverty, ensuring energy security and combating climate change. But it must act soon!  India can no longer afford to delay renewable energy deployment to meet its future energy needs.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer and are not intended to represent the views or policies of the United States Department of Energy or the United States. The article was not prepared as part of the writer’s official duties at the United States Department of Energy.

DarshanGoswamiAbout the Author: Darshan Goswami has over 40 years of experience in the energy field. He is working for United States Department of Energy (DOE) as a Project Manager in Pittsburgh, PA, USA. He retired as a Chief of Energy Forecasting and Renewable Energy from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington, DC. Earlier, he worked for 30 years at Duquesne Light Company, an electric utility company in Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

Source: Energy Central. Reproduced with permission.

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  • Bob_Wallace

    Great! Energy efficiency is the low hanging fruit.

    The more energy we can save, the less renewable energy we need to create. We can attack the fossil fuel demon from two directions.

    Perhaps you don’t wish to preach, but you might think about teaching.

    And keep up the good work.

  • Mint

    Cutting fossil fuel subsidies makes sense, but I don’t think India is in a position to subsidize renewables with an FiT program. There is far too much poverty there (they have health problems much worse than those caused by pollution), and addressing that is a higher priority for funding. It makes a lot more sense to build out its grid with an eye for renewables integration (will HVDC lower costs?) when they’re cheapest.

    The rest of the world is reducing the cost of renewables through targets and subsidies, and India can buy when ready. But right now, Indian coal is $35/ton (less than 2c/kWh after plant losses, though I’ve seen $50/ton as well), and they’re doing what they can to expand production and limit imports:
    Despite imports going up, there’s almost no limit to the resource there, and domestic production has been expanding every year.

    I’m hoping to see more of solar boosters, which are compact linear Fresnel reflectors providing heated steam to coal plants while the sun is shining, directly cutting their coal use.

    • Bob_Wallace

      India has a nuclear program. If they can afford to build reactors they can certainly afford to subsidize renewables.

      Indian citizens are paying for expensive electricity. They’d be happy to pay less and get more by having more renewables on their grids. Wind and solar easily pay for themselves when replace $0.25/kWh diesel.

      • Mint

        Diesel/oil is 0.5% of India’s electricity mix. Nuclear is 2%, and little more than a research program at this point (they too are looking at molten salt for lower cost), with only six plants. Renewables are already much bigger, although primarily hydro and biogas. Neither diesel nor nuclear are relevant in the context of the article: 100% renewable generation for India.

        If the goal was 5% wind/solar, you’d have a point, but it isn’t.

        I don’t know what your source is for India’s electricity being expensive. Coal PPAs are Rs. 3-3.5/kWh (5c/kWh). People who are off grid represent a tiny percentage of electricity use, and I could certainly see them going to solar+battery, but it’s small potatoes.

        India doesn’t have the natural gas backup capacity, nor the grid, nor the low/flat demand growth that western countries do to reliably integrate renewables en masse. And their coal is cheap, too.

        They’re not idiots there. If renewables were even close to price parity, industry would be flocking to it. But it’s not the right environment yet for renewables to succeed. There was a brief period that coal imports were well over $100/ton, and if that was sustained, renewables would have a great chance to at least replace that portion of generation ASAP, but it wasn’t. Maybe another couple price scares could do the trick.

        • Bob_Wallace

          There are small towns that run with 100% diesel. And the grid inputs do not count the large amount of petroleum used to fill in during grid outages.

          • Ronald Brakels

            India produces about 67 million kilowatt-hours from diesel gensets a day. They put about 192,000 barrels of diesel through gensets a day. That costs them about $3.2 billion a year, or a couple of bucks per Indian citizen, which is a lot given how much the median Indian earns. Obvious opportunities for saving money there.

        • Ronald Brakels

          Cough *Australia exports coal to India for $70 a tonne* end cough.

          • Ronald Brakels

            I even have a paper from 10 years ago saying India would be better off paying for Australian coal than using its own on account of the costs of mining and transporting it and the deaths that would result as it is low quality, high pollution coal. i don’t know if they expected the run up in coal prices we’ve had, but what do you know, the current price has almost fallen to the 2004 peak. Now I think it pays of be suspicious of things that read like an Australian coal executive’s fantasy, but here is a PDF of the paper anyway. It’s good for show casing the astounding low quality of Indian coal:


            Scrubbing sulphur and other anti-pollution measures are expensive, but without them many more people die. That tends to be frowned on in democracies. Even non-democracies aren’t thrilled by it.

          • Mint

            I don’t know what you’re coughing at. That fits in perfectly with what I said about exports no longer being well over $100/ton. Indian investors abroad are bailing on export projects in Australia and elsewhere because the price is too low now to make a profit.

            Building coal in Australia (in your post below) is very different from building it in India or China. Australia, like the rest of the developed world, has strict emissions regulations that require expensive scrubbing systems.

            India’s coal is indeed low quality, but it costs $35-50/ton, and they are expanding production year after year to tap into their huge reserves with cheap labor. Yes, they still have to import some, but growth is not going to stop until environmental regulations come in to force the price of coal power up.

            I seriously doubt Modi is the one to do that. He’s a pro-business type that allegedly rolled back labor and environmental regulations. Recently a lot of environmental hurdles were cleared for expanded coal mining.

          • Ronald Brakels

            Sorry about the coughing. It was just a little joke. (A very little joke.) India’s coal costs $35-50 a ton? That is astoundingly expensive. It’s like $3 a tonne in Australia for lignite. Given its kilojoules per tonne when burned that works out about equal to the cost of imported coal with the disadvantage of being more polluting. And if by ton you mean an imperial ton, the comparison gets worse. Not that it really matters. We can’t build new coal plants in Australia with lignite only costing a few dollars a tonne as they are not competitive with wind and solar. India is in a similar situation. While they can build coal plants at a lower cost than Australia can, the same applies to renewables and the cost of renewables is decreasing while that of coal plants is not. So coal plant construction will slow and then stop. And while the two countries are not the same I will mention that coal use in China has just taken a small fall. Hopefully it’s the start of something big. (That is, something big becoming small.)

          • Mint

            I wasn’t talking about lignite. I was talking about coal with 20+ GJ/tonne. Lignite/peat is far cheaper. Here’s pricing by Coal India Ltd, producer of 80% of India’s domestic coal:

            Lignite is even cheaper per GJ than coal, and waaay cheaper per GJ than imported coal. Grade 11, which is ~4100kcal/kg (17GJ/tonne), works out to $0.70/GJ.

            Renewables can’t compete with that. Even at 30% efficiency, that’s less than $0.01/kWh fuel cost.

          • Ronald Brakels

            Mint, you must have missed where I mentioned coal capacity isn’t competitive in Australia at a few dollars a tonne for brown coal.

          • Mint

            You didn’t tell me what the energy content of that coal was (and I don’t believe that figure anyway). You did say that works out to the same price per kilojoule, and I just showed you that Indian coal & lignite is far cheaper per GJ than coal imported from Australia.

            You, like many people, don’t like to bother with numbers. Sorry, but your handwaving claims won’t work with me in the face of hard evidence.

          • Ronald Brakels

            Mint, even when the cost of coal is trivial, new coal capacity cannot compete with renewables in Australia. Here is an article on the subject:


          • Mint

            FFS, Ronald, this article is not about Australia.

            It’s about India, where coal plants don’t need to limit SO2, NOx, or particulates nearly as much as developed countries. They don’t have the same safety standards or labor costs or reclamation costs when mining coal. None of these factors will change under Modi, and likely won’t under his successor either.

          • Ronald Brakels

            Mint, yes, the article is about India, but you do understand why I brought up Australia, don’t you? If you paraphrase my point I can see if we understand each other.

          • Mint

            As far as I can tell, you brought up Australia because you think that because coal is uncompetitive with renewables in Australia, and Australia exports coal to India, then it must be uncompetitive there.

            What you don’t realize is that your link shows new coal is uncompetitive in Australia, because it’s far more expensive there than India to not only build but also meet all emissions regulations (they also add to running costs). Australian coal plants aren’t looking at a growing supply of cheap Indian coal to fuel them, either. Those are the primary reasons your comparison is invalid.

            Secondary reasons include Australia having lots of CCGT capacity and cheap natural gas along with low growth, so filling in for intermittency isn’t an issue. Incentives like net metering are the reason Australia has so much rooftop solar. These are incentives India can’t afford (at least not at large scales), and they don’t have the grid to support it anyway.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’m looking at the graph below and I’m thinking that India has a nice big hunk of hydro that should serve very nicely as fill-in for wind and solar.

            And, gosh, if India doesn’t have the grid to support rooftop solar and distributed wind and solar I’m wondering how they could get power from big coal plants out to the people.

          • Ronald Brakels

            Thanks for that, Mint, I see we’re not on the same page. My point is that in Australia coal is not competitive with renewables. As a result no new coal plants will be built in Australia. And this is true even where stranded deposits makes the cost of coal trivial. India also has declining renewable costs and coal there will find itself in a similar situation, and coal plant construction there will slow and stop.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Help me out here.

            What’s the fuel cost for wind and solar?

          • Mint

            I already showed you a build cost of $1/W for coal in India. Now I’m showing you $0.01-0.02/kWh fuel cost.

            Do the math including CF and show me how renewables could possibly come out cheaper per kWh, even if we pretend that intermittency doesn’t matter.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’ve read your comment few a few times and I can’t seem to find the answer in my question hidden anywhere in those sentences.

          • Mint

            The answer to your snarky question is 0c/kWh and nobody every implied otherwise. I hope your ego gets a buzz from wasting our time by asking people things that everyone knows the answer to.

            Now you answer my question: How cheap do renewables have to get to compete with $1/W coal using $0.01-0.02/kWh fuel?

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’ll be glad to.

            Now, remind me, what’s your source for a build cost of $1/W for coal in India?

          • Mint
          • Bob_Wallace

            I clicked on your first link. Which of the 1,020,000 results did yo expect me to dig through in order to find the answer?

            If you’d like to discuss this issue then provide information. Don’t send people on snipe hunts.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I decided to read up a bit on Tata Mundra. The “Tata” got me. I’ve spent a lot of hours riding in Tata trucks and buses in that part of the world. Always liked saying Ta-Ta.

            OK Tata Mundra, a 4,000 MW group of 800 MW coal plants, expected to cost $4.14 billion. That would be $1.14/watt, would it not? Now, we don’t really know what the final price really was but we do know that the facility is in deep financial trouble largely due to the price of coal. Seems like they promised a price to customers that they can’t deliver.

            But the plant about to go bankrupt aside, $1.14/watt is the overnight cost. Got to add in some serious change for financing during construction. Looks like construction began in 2007 and the plants were comissioned in 2012 and 2013. Five years.

            How might that compare with solar?

            Ronald stated that solar has been installed in India for $1.33/watt. Given that solar goes in so much faster than one can build a coal plant that probably means that the cap ex + fin ex for coal and solar is not much different at this point. 6% over 5 years would take $1 coal up to $1.44 and solar has likely dropped in price.

            So, my read. Commissioned prices about even if not better for solar.

            Fuel costs rule.

            Plus one might want to consider coal’s very high use of fresh water, of which India is strapped. And the pollution problem from coal, which India already has more than an equal share.

            Now let’s circle back for some closure –

            “Now you answer my question: How cheap do renewables have to get to compete with $1/W coal using $0.01-0.02/kWh fuel?”

            I’d say renewables have to get to $1.50 or a bit more to compete with $1/W coal and that solar is already there and then some.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Having trouble getting a price for installed wind in India. Apparently it was $1.46/W in 2010. The cost of hardware has been dropping since then so I think it’s safe to guess that wind is cheaper than coal in India even before we consider fuel, water and pollution costs.


          • Mint

            First of all, $4.14 / 4 is not equal to $1.14. Your interest charges also assume all $1.04 are spent right away as opposed to spread out during the 5y construction, so it’s more like $1.20/W at the time of generation.

            (FYI, the bankruptcy thing was from the coal price spike a few years ago. It’s cheap again.)

            Commissioned prices about even if not better for solar.

            You forgot about capacity factor, which is probably 20% for solar and 80% for coal.

            $1.33/W solar, using 20% CF, 6% interest, and 25y lifetime, works out to 6c/kWh w/o profit. Coal works out to about half of that in India using the figures I gave you.

            It would be great if water use and air pollution externalities were accounted for. Unfortunately, they aren’t, and won’t be for many years.

          • Bob_Wallace

            OMG! I made a minor math error!

            Coal at $1.20/watt, 6%, 80% CF and 25 year lifetime comes out at 1.3c/kWh plus fuel costs and higher O&M costs than solar.

            Coal does come out a bit cheaper. But in India water use and air pollution are part of the calculation. That’s why the current government has started a major push on solar.

            Plus solar in India will drop below $1/watt installed.

        • Ronald Brakels

          Mint, it’s impossible to build new coal or gas capacity in Australia because renewables are cheaper. The situation is not the same in India as in Australia. Their coal deposits are of far worse quality. Very unlike Australia, India does not have enough generating capacity to meet demand and they are rapidly building new capacity but their coal build out will slow and stop because it’s simply not competitive with renewables. If there was a proper accounting of externalities this would be abundantly clear.

          • Bob_Wallace

            India has another significant coal problem. Water.

            They have a shortage of fresh water and mining/cleaning of coal uses a tremendous amount of what they have.

          • Ronald Brakels

            Yep, water, congested rail lines, coal that can self ignite, has low energy density, is high ash and high sulpher. Completely unconfirmed rumours of mismanagement that I’m sure won’t stand up to the light of day (on Pluto). Coal faces many problems in India, with the largest being low cost competition from renewables. Today in South Australia the sun came out at around noon and dropped grid demand to what it was at four o’clock in the morning. The wholesale price of electricity dropped to half a cent a kilowatt-hour in the middle of the day. The low average wholesale electricity prices that result from wind and solar penetration are disastrous for the economics of coal power.

  • David Connolly

    Nice article. I recommend this paper which quantifies the impact of some of these suggestions. I would also move towards synthetic fuels instead of hydrogen. The vehicles and infrastructure will likely be too expensive for hydrogen.

  • Vensonata

    Energy use per capita India yearly 650 kwh. U.S. electricity use per capita per year 13,500kwh. So I think India could manage to attain 4% of American energy use through renewables rather easily. In fact when you look at the staggeringly unequal numbers it takes you awhile to process the craziness of it all.


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    • Matt

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  • JamesWimberley

    Modi’s new government seems receptive to this message, but not all the signs emerging from Delhi are encouraging. Solar policy is giving an absurd priority to macho gigawatt projects in Rajasthan and even remote Ladakh over more effective distributed projects of normal size. The government must announce its decision in the next day or so over the sky-high pv anti-dumping tariffs proposed by the trade ministry, which would abort the solar takeoff. Modi is a realist as well as a nationalist, and I expect he will split the difference, and announce some sops to inefficient domestic manufacturer but not fatal ones to imports of cheap Chinese equipment.

    The strongest force on the side of Indian renewables is the dire state of its nationalised grid, coal and nuclear industries. India holds the unwanted Guinness world record for largest power cut (600 million affected, 2012). Unlike the Chinese leadership, the Indian one cannot possibly think coal and nuclear are serious options to meet the growing energy needs of a huge population – which in India is also a demanding electorate.

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