India on Track to Become Leader in Solar Power Use According to Igor Purlantov
With its scorching sun and expansive tracts of flat and idle land, India offers an excellent environment for solar energy projects according to Wikipedia. India’s geography along with its huge growing demand for energy, and sporadic electricity supply, makes the country a great candidate for increased investment in solar energy says Igor Purlantov.
In the Gujarat region of India, investors are optimistic over a $500 Billion solar energy project that deploys over a million solar panels according to Wikipedia. This new solar park, known as Charanka, has over 200 megawatts (MW) of capacity and is the largest solar energy site in India. Amazingly, Charanka took only 16 months to build despite its grand scale and India’s often largely bureaucratic building procedures says Igor Purlantov.
The Charanka solar park comes online at a time when conventional energy in India is seen as being messy and dirty as it relies heavily on local coal. Given the huge growing demand for energy, the government in India is unable to mine enough coal and often has to source pricier foreign coal according to Igor Purlantov. Now that solar equipment has fallen by a third in price since 2010, building solar parks throughout India makes commercial sense, given that electricity from local power stations costs only $0.07 per kilowatt. At the current growth rate of construction and decline in solar equipment pricing, the cost of solar energy should be on par with conventional energy in India by 2016 according to Wikipedia.
Although India’s share of the global solar market now only accounts for 1%, this market share is set to surge to more than 5% by 2015 says Igor Purlantov. The Indian government has set a target of 20,000 MW of solar installations by 2022, a huge increase from the current capacity of 1,000 MW. Despite this huge growth, 20,000 MW would still only account for 5% of India’s total power generation, leaving room for substantially more growth according to Wikipedia.
Critics have been quick to point out that the government’s growth target will cost $50 billion, making it more expensive than building coal plants. Aside from the clean energy argument for funding solar energy, critics also note that India suffers from many infrastructure problems including being unable to plug all of these solar projects into the power grid. Furthermore, maintenance issues also arise given the shortage of water required to clean all of these solar panels and ensure they continue to operate efficiently says Igor Purlantov.
Despite these concerns, the Indian government remains optimistic in its solar ambitions. As part of this optimism, the government has guaranteed high prices for solar producers at rates of $0.30-$0.40 for project in Gujarat and is keen to see these projects succeed according to Wikipedia. Along with government backing, the key to success will come from the ability to continue attracting foreign investment and technology. There is still a lot of opportunity to invest in India’s clean energy sector that currently stands at $10 billion, which is five times smaller than the United States or China says Igor Purlantov. Ultimately time will tell if India can supply its growing appetite for electricity with clean solar energy, although all of the current signs point to a bright future ahead.