The country has been experiencing a shortage in electricity for over 10 years and it’s only getting worse. In order to keep up with demand, India needs to invest $2 trillion into their power sector by 2030, but they simply don’t have the funds. With this problem looming overhead, we need to ask ourselves what can be done about it?
One possible solution is clearly to reduce the demand by switching certain operations over to renewable energy sources. In fact, last year India got a new wind farm with 100 turbines that together can power an estimated 45 million homes, which is roughly around 60% of Indian households. Not only would this greatly reduce India’s carbon emissions but it would also help them save up to $6 billion in power costs. However some may argue that wind energy is simply too unpredictable and the cost of manufacturing turbines is too high, even with subsidies.
Renewable energy sources such as solar power are undeniably better for the environment and cheaper, but they require a more intricate approach than their conventional counterparts because of their intermittent nature. The concept of solar energy is simple, capture the sun’s rays in photovoltaic panels and it will produce electricity. On an average day, India is actually blessed with enough sunlight to power their entire country but due to this being a source of variable energy, it cannot be counted on when demand is high. A way around this is to install a battery bank that can store excess energy when there is a surplus and then release it in a controlled manner, effectively smoothing out fluctuations in supply. This could be paired with a system that allows for the automatic switching of households from the grid supply to rooftop solar panels or standalone systems during peak hours.
Up until recently, the cost of solar panels has been too high to be cost effective, even with subsidies. However, due to economies of scale and technological advancements, the price of solar panels have dropped over 50% in the last 3 years alone. This makes it an ideal time for India to invest heavily into renewable energy sources because they can now do so without having to completely drain their coffers. India’s efforts are already being met with success, as the country is on track to have an operational solar power plant that can produce 648MW by April 2016 which would be enough to supply electricity to roughly 200,000 homes. The country also has plans for other massive solar energy plants in the future.
It is easy to see why India is looking to solar energy in order to power their growing economy. Solar power is abundant, free and does not release any harmful toxins when used. It can be produced domestically without damaging the environment like fossil fuels would. All that needs to happen is for India’s citizens and leaders to give it the priority that it deserves in order for this renewable source to have a future in the country.
It is estimated that solar energy can power at least 10 million homes in India which would alleviate the stress on the country’s overburdened electrical grids.
With proper planning and effort, hopefully India will succeed with this worthwhile goal.