India’s 100GW Solar Energy Commitment: Does it Matter?

EcoBeat Staff – With Prime Minister Modi’s commitment to quintuple India’s original solar energy generation commitments from 20 GW (enough to power 4 million homes) to 100 GW by 2022 and a $20 billion investment to cover a fifth of that plan from the Japanese SoftBank Corporation, the subcontinent’s solar market is looking increasingly optimistic. Yet, many are wondering how a nation with 4 GW of capacity in 2015 will manage to increase capacity by more than 3,000% in just 7 years time.

Energy deficit

Energy Deficit at Peak Hours in India

In short, India offers massive potential for private sector investors. With a population of 1.25 billion people, 300 million of whom have no access to electricity (compared to the US market of 318 million total) and a 3.6% energy deficit at peak hours of the day, the country is home to arguably the largest untapped market for solar development on the globe. A report by Tata Power states that demand will grow by 5.2% annually between 2014-2024, further increasing the need for new power sources. Adani Power, Reliance Power and SunEdison have already bought in on the government’s plan, committing $5 billion for solar power plants in India.

Even in the midst of these optimistic plans for solar development, India’s government has failed to make any international commitment to decrease greenhouse gas emissions over the coming years. In the past, India’s government has indicated that its key policy priorities are economic development and poverty alleviation. Therefore, many are concerned that the new power generated from solar will not be used as a means of offsetting emissions, but rather as a solution to bring electricity to 20 million of the 300 million people in the country who currently lack it, while use of coal, diesel and other fossil fuels will continue to expand at large.

This is a promising sign compared to where India was just a year ago, but further pressure must be applied to the Indian government leading in to the COP21 this fall if this is to have any true impact.

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