On October 2nd, 2016, the birthday of ‘Father of India’ Mahatma Gandhi, India inked the critical Paris Accord. As per the accord, all major countries will decide their own goals to tackle the climate crisis according to their development needs. India has set ambitious goals, balancing the need to preserve its delicate eco-system and to grow its economy which requires increased energy consumption.
As the west discovered electricity and hopped to the modern era, India caught up utilizing cleaner and renewable energy sources. The need for sustainable development, whose realization was once limited to scientists observing climate change, has now been recognized by the general population. This has been reflected in government policy in recent times.
With Indian leadership at its head, the International Solar Alliance (ISA) was formed by a group of about 120 countries which receives around 300 days of sunshine and falls in the Tropic region (between Cancer and Capricorn). Headquartered in Gurugram, India, the ISA is driven towards promoting solar technologies, developing cost-effective financial mechanisms, building a common Solar knowledge e- portal and facilitating R&D in solar applications. ISA also promises to mobilize around 1 trillion USD by 2030 to be invested in solar technologies. Moreover, India announced that it would cut its carbon footprint by 33-35% from its 2005 level which must be achieved by 2030. For this, India will need a 175- gigawatt power production capacity from non-fossil fuel sources. India has already utilized most of the wind and hydro power potential despite controversies over land. India is yet to utilize its solar energy potential which is quite high. Hence, the government has set an ambitious target of having 100 GW of solar power generation capacity by 2022, including 40 GW from solar rooftops. India has a potential to install 124 GW of solar rooftop projects. These projects' size can vary between 25 kW and 500 kW (Source: TOI). The Centre has already approved ₹5,000 crore subsidy for solar rooftops from the Clean Energy Fund over the next five years to reduce the cost burden on rooftop solar power customers.
Meeting the energy needs of such a densely-populated country whose citizens are increasingly attaining a higher standard of living is challenging but very much achievable because fortunately, maintaining the equilibrium between a healthy environment and quality life for all is not a zero-sum game. As technology has evolved, solar panels have become cheaper and with solar energy becoming economical, the sense of urgency for it has only heightened due to climate change.
India has the Tropic of Cancer passing through it and has a clear sky for most of the year due to a monsoon based climate. Favorable climate, better technology, and tangible goals mean that the future of solar energy in India is very bright. By installing solar photovoltaic systems on the roof of their homes, ordinary people are becoming part of that endeavor. It is certain that the Indian renewable saga will be keenly watched by the world in coming years.