26 crore Indians still live without any access to electricity. India is still well behind most other countries in Asia, Europe and the Americas in being able to provide access to electricity. Rahul Nair, who works for the United States Environmental Protection Agency, broadly details how various economic and political factors have come together to make solar power a very attractive option for India’s growth and economic development.
One in five people in India do not have access to electricity. For a nation with the second largest population, that is a whopping 26 crore Indians still living without access to electricity. The good news is that the percentage of Indians with access to electricity has jumped from 51% in 1990 to 79% in 2012, and significant strides have been made in the last few years.
Roughly, 5 crore people received access to electricity for the first time during 2010-12. However, India is still well behind most other countries in Asia, Europe and the Americas regarding access to electricity. China achieved its ambitious goals to provide electricity to all (or most) of its citizens a couple of years ago. Also, having access to electricity in India usually does not mean 24/7 reliable predictable access – many parts of the country deal with regular power outages as well as scheduled ‘power cuts.’ The country suffered from the largest power brownout in 2014 as demand exceeded
Historically, a majority of India’s electricity has come from coal and hydroelectric power plants. India has to import billions of dollars of gas, coal and crude oil annually to meet its rising energy needs. A number of renewable technologies like solar, wind, geothermal, etc., have surged in capacity in the last decade, with European nations primarily driving the charge. Of these, solar, in particular, offers some incredible opportunities to India and her economic and social development.
While electricity from solar radiation is not a new idea at all, rapid advancements in semiconductor technology and economies of scale have combined to reduce dramatically the price per energy produced from solar panels, thus making it more feasible as a large-scale energy option. In fact, this price has reduced 10-fold in the last decade, and over 100-fold in the last 40 years!
In some parts of the world, the cost of electricity production from solar technologies has become cheaper than the cost of production from traditionally cheap sources like coal.
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