The Guardian recently released an article discussing how emerging countries, like India and China, were racing towards the goal of generating green energy. New technology, it seems, is going to allow both of these great countries to leapfrog the fossil fuel-driven economy that the West has been stuck in for generations and move straight over to renewables, once the price falls to acceptable levels.
Currently, 20 percent of the people living in India currently get by without any access to electricity. The government in India, according to the Guardian newspaper, has said that it will deliver power to everybody in the country by the time the next national election arrives in 2019. As a result, the country is looking for cheap and efficient ways to bring energy to the country’s rural poor.
This year, India’s Renewable Energy Conference will tackle these issues and suggest that the future doesn’t lie in old-fashioned technologies at all, but in ultra modern renewables, despite the fact that they have been more expensive in the past. The reason India is so excited about renewable energy sources is down to the fact that they offer a decentralised form of power generation. India has struggled for years with its national grid. People regularly hook up their homes to the power lines illegally and don’t pay, meaning the power companies are unwilling to invest in the infrastructure needed to deliver universal power to the people. But renewable energy offers a solution to this sorry situation. Renewables can be affixed directly onto people’s homes, or, in the case of wind, within the community itself, making the issue of power theft far less of an issue.
India has currently set itself the target of generating more than 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022, with over 100 GW of that coming from solar. Unlike in Western markets, the growth in the sector has been slow so far, but the authorities there hope that it will reach a tipping point in the next couple of years. To put the country’s renewable targets into perspective, it currently has only 3 GW of total installed capacity, adding around 860 MW of new solar power back in 2014. The country hopes that in addition to providing electricity to millions of families, the drive for solar panels will generate more jobs in the country – up to 670,000 by some estimates.
The Guardian believes that getting solar energy to work will require government policy – their solution for everything. But in reality, changes aren’t going to come about because of policy: they’re going to be the result of it becoming economically feasible to provide vast numbers of people with renewable energy.
It should be remembered that there’s a big incentive in India for individual consumers to switch to their own renewable energy sources beyond price alone. Intermittent power supplies make life difficult for the average Indian, trying to make a living or even trying to watch TV in the evening when they get back from work. People will be driven to new solar technologies, not only because they are cheaper, but also because they are a lot more convenient than the supply they have to put up with at the moment.