The Indian government has recently published its energy program for the next ten years which includes plans to produce 57% of its electricity from renewable sources by the year 2020. This goes well beyond the target of 40% by 2030 which was decided as part of the Paris Agreement last year.
An excellent piece of news from the world’s sixth largest economic power, the declaration comes after the inauguration of the world’s biggest solar power plant in Tamil Nadu in the south of the country earlier this month.
The solar plant, which is The Adani Group’s new site in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu covers an area of 10 square kilometers and has a capacity of 648 megawatts (MW). This is nearly 100 MW more than the previous record-holder, the Topaz Solar Farm in California.
The plant was built in only eight months, comprises 2.5 million individual solar modules and cost $679m to build. It is estimated that it will produce enough electricity to power about 150,000 homes at full capacity.
Made up of five plants in a single location, the solar photovoltaic project has helped push India’s total installed solar capacity across the 10 gigawatt mark, which only a handful of countries can claim.
“India is moving beyond fossil fuels at a pace scarcely imagined only two years ago”, said Tim Buckley, director of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, to the Guardian. A huge step forward that can largely be explained by the spectacular decrease in costs of developing renewable energy plants in the past five years.
But to solidify these measures, the state must receive support from private investors. As such, Energy Minister Piyush Goyal has reached out to foreign companies to ask for funding.
Among those to respond was French energy giant EDF which has decided to invest £1.6 billion in Indian wind and solar energy development. Telecommunication group SoftBank and Taiwanese company Foxcon have also stepped up to the plate offering £16.2 billion between them.
The country declared that it had a power surplus for the first time ever, though The Hindu reported that 300 million people still don’t have access to electricity and power cuts continue to be ‘rampant.’ The issue, it appears, is that capacity remains unused in the grid because some state power companies simply cannot afford to buy sufficient electricity.
Here’s hoping other countries follow India’s example with ambitious targets – and that the big investors decide to join in too.
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