There was a very interesting article in the Guardian this week looking at Indian energy. More particularly the Indian governments attitude to coal power and solar energy. The whole article shows the tension between good intentions and development in the lead up to Paris. The new Indian Prime minister Narendra Modi has promised everyone in India access to electricity I believe by 2019. Since a third of the population have no access to the grid (including many who suffer the direct pollution of old coal fired power stations) this is given India’s population quite a challenge. Indian energy policy has made the news mainly because Modi has announced a huge increase in solar energy from 3 GWp today to 100GWp in seven years (at the moment total generating capacity for all forms is about 200GWp). But at the same time a whole heap of new coal plants (very efficient and clean) are being built which would mean Indian energy (electricity) was made up of 55% coal in 2030. At the moment the slow down in the economy means there is an excess of generating capacity but if the economy picks up there could be a shortage of electricity by 2017. And there are still power cuts.
All India’s energy plans are very ambitious. Solar would have to go in at a rate not seen anywhere else so far. However, as we have seen elsewhere solar constantly exceeds expectations. It also has a huge advantage of matching India’s energy demand, when air-con needs are highest solar output at a maximum. A whole heap of entrepreneurs are selling solar systems as back up power systems as an alternative to expensive noisy smelly diesel system when there are power cuts. In addition due to the good solar resource PV electricity is only very slightly more expensive than coal powered electricity. Finally whilst it takes nearly a decade to build coal fired power stations solar can go in months.
The Indian government thinks it should be able to develop and unlike China make no carbon cutting commitments. Is this fair especially when India’s historical emissions are high? Should Indian energy policy take account of climate change or should we cut more so the developing world can develop?
The whole article can be seen here.