India’s government has set a new solar energy goal to reach 9 gigawatts of grid connected solar energy by 2017. This will help the country reach its National Solar Mission target of 22 gigawatts of installed solar capacity by 2022.
The biggest factor in all this is the prediction that by 2017, it is expected that solar will match the cost of coal.
“Solar used to be very expensive but Germany took leadership and today it is close to grid parity,” said V Saibaba, chairman of the Solar Energy Task Force at the Federation of INdian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. “ This was unimaginable just six years back, but it is possible to deploy technologies and make them work.”
Saibaba has also said that coal is causing more and more problems in India due to local reserves locked away in forests and imported coal causing issues in the nation’s balance of payments. He believes that solar will offer solutions that virtually eliminate the need for large-scale, expensive, centralized grid power. With the drop in the price of solar, the next decade could actually see 3 to 4 times the expected amount of solar energy developed.
This is very encouraging to hear after the recent news of all the coal-fired power plants still being planned for India and elsewhere. If the price of solar continues to drop, coal plants will become completely impractical and the country may no longer have a need for it. If there is anything we can all agree on, it is that we will gladly take power that is cleaner AND cheaper.
Image CC licensed by Dave Kleinschmidt: Rooftop solar hot water system in India.