It’s finally happening. The solar revolution is coming, and India is set to lead the way. The World Bank has pledged to support India in achieving its ambitious goal of sourcing 40% of all its energy by 2030, which would have the knock-on effect of reducing global emissions by 1 billion tons a year. This exciting initiative is driven by Narendra Modi (India’s Prime Minister’s) personal commitment towards renewable energy, and solar power in particular.
“The world must turn to the sun to power our future”, Prime Minister Modi pronounced at the seminal COP21 climate conference in 2015 – and, as promised, he’s following through with a series of ambitious projects to set the ball rolling. For a country like India, which has almost a quarter of its population living without access to electricity, the potential of solar power is further reaching than simply saving the planet – it could also transform the lives of Indian people, and see India repositioned at the centre of the global economy.
It also sets a powerful example to other developing countries, who have argued that the West built themselves on unclean fuels such as coal, and that it is their turn to benefit – by transforming the sun (which India, needless to say, has in abundance) into safe, sustainable fuel, India is setting a strong precedent for other nations to do the same.
The World Bank has revealed hopes to invest $1 billion in India’s plans over the 2017 financial year.
The World Bank has already approved a $625 million loan to support India’s Grid Connected Rooftop Solar program, which intends to introduce Grid-Connected Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic through India on a mass scale, and India also plans to develop one of the largest solar parks in the world. Based in Karnataka, the park will produce 2 gigawatts of energy (to put this into context, the solar power capacity of the entire world combined was 181 GW in 2014), which is enough to power almost a million households.
And cities aren’t the only places that will benefit – in January, Chhotkei in Orissa became India’s first “smart village” through the use of remotely monitored smart grid technology, showing how far-reaching and flexible the benefits of solar really are. WiFi hotspots and electricity for agriculture have already resulted in microbusinesses popping up, showing the transformative economic implications of the shift. This follows the Prime Minister’s 2015 pledge to electrify every Indian village within 1,000 days – and so far, it looks like he’s going to stick to his words.
In the world of sustainable energy, where so many grand promises are made and so few are followed through on, it is truly exciting to see Prime Minister Modi make such a push for real change – we can only hope that other world leaders will follow suit.