600 million people without power – and those were the ones expecting to have power. I’m not going to join the chorus of critical voices reacting to two of the world’s largest power black-outs this week in India. While surely there is ample blame to go around, it’s not really clear what happened. It could have been the lack of infrastructure investment, the light monsoon weather causing farmers to use more electricity for pumping irrigation water or states taking more than their allotted share of electricity from the grid. But one thing is clear, this power outage ground India’s economy to a halt, left 10% of the world’s population without power and rolled through 22 of India’s 28 states. And that’s not counting the 300 million people there who have no regular access to electricity.
The electricity crisis this week will certainly bring India’s energy problem into the forefront so this a great time to rethink and recommit to solar being a larger part of the energy mix. Although the National Solar Mission has a goal of 20GW of solar installed by 2020, the goal is relatively modest given that India currently faces an 8-12% energy deficit at peak times and is estimated to need to add between 600-1200 GW of generating capacity before 2050 (that’s 20-40GW/year). Solar can contribute immediately and significantly to meeting India’s urgent and growing energy needs.
In fact, in a recent solar energy survey conducted by Applied, more than half of respondents in India voiced concern that the country’s renewable energy goals were too slow. Solar can contribute immediately and significantly to meeting India’s urgent and growing energy needs.