Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Solar to enable India's new PM to bring power to the poor

India’s new government led by Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi has said that it sees solar as a critical part of a plan to electrify every home in India within the next five years.
The country currently has several hundred million people without access to electricity.
Bloomberg quotes Narenda Taneja, convener of the energy division at Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, as saying: “We look upon solar as having the potential to completely transform the way we look at the energy space.”  
India has encountered considerable problems in rolling out a series of mega-coal power plant complexes intended to meet India’s rapidly growing demand for power. Regulations that have capped power prices below levels required to generate a financial return, in conjunction with corruption, resistance to expansion of domestic coalmines and rises in international coal prices have all acted to hinder such plans.
However, solar PV technology offers the potential to circumvent some of the problems that have beset these government-led mega power projects. Because solar PV comes in small modular units that can be placed directly on people’s homes without grid infrastructure it offers the potential for local-scale power supply which communities themselves could manage without central government interference.
Therefore, Taneja noted that solar could readily supply millions of highly dispersed households not currently connected to the grid. Such systems could allow every home to have enough power to run two bulbs, a solar cooker and a television, he said.
This seems incredibly modest relative to western standards, but is likely to represent a major improvement for millions of Indians who lack access to any electricity at all