In India, Solar Ambitions Are Suddenly Outsize
Thursday, January 10, 2013
After years of lagging behind China and the West in the adoption of solar power, some states in India are proposing to build solar farms at a galloping pace that leaves them at risk of falling short of electricity (a familiar problem here) or of paying higher prices for it.
In just the last five months, five Indian states have announced plans to bring giant amounts of solar power online within five years, including 1,000 megawatts in Andhra Pradesh, 350 megawatts in Rajasthan, 800 megawatts in Madhya Pradesh, 1,000 megawatts in Chhatisgarh and a whopping 3,000 megawatts in Tamil Nadu.
By comparison, the entire nation of India currently has just over 1,000 megawatts of solar power, and California, the leader in solar power in the United States, has around 2,000. India has more than 300 sunny days a year and much of the nation lies near the equator — ideal conditions, geographically speaking, for harnessing solar power.
The central government has a goal of producing 22 gigawatts of solar power by 2022. Proponents say that solar energy might reduce the country’s dependence on coal, which is always in short supply, and slow the effects of climate change, including sea-level rise, which endangers the country’s coastal cities.