With climate change negotiationsset to begin in Copenhagen on December 7th, some nations are beginningto articulate commitments to renewable energy deployment in lieu ofadopting binding carbon emission reductions. Rapidly developingeconomies, in particular, are opposed to emission reductions as theyfear such caps will slow and limit economic prosperity. And so it goeswith India, which is expected to announce details of the nation’s solarenergy plan sometime this week.
The “National Solar Mission,” initially identified as a priority in the 2008 National Action Plan(NAP) on Climate Change, may set capacity targets for both solar pv andconcentrated solar thermal power generation throughout the region.According to the NAP, the solar energy plan may also include details on
a major R&D programme, which could draw uponinternational cooperation as well, to enable the creation of moreaffordable, more convenient solar power systems, and to promoteinnovations that enable the storage of solar power for sustained,long-term use.
Articulating both targets and the country’s dedication to solarenergy research and development will allow other nations to have abetter understanding of the degree to which India is committed tothwart climate change before official negotiations in Copenhagen begin.
Solar energy technologies have the to potential to bring much ofrural India out of poverty. As a distributed resource, solar pv panelscould power regions that are currently disconnected from the electricalgrid. In addition, distributed solar energy could prove a more reliablesource of electricity than standard grid connection, which is plaguedby fairly frequent power outages, requiring many to rely ondiesel-powered generators to provide backup when the lights go off.
Clearly, technology isn’t the hurdle to overcome. Rather, it is howIndia will finance a massive deployment of solar energy, which is stillnot cost competitive with other forms of power available on thesubcontinent. According to the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Agency (EIA), less than 1% of electricity currently generated in India is from solar resources.