India’s $100 billion solar power binge ready to roll

Posted: July 2, 2015 by oldbrew in Energy
Tags: ,

Power to the people? [credit: inhabitat]

Power to the people?
[credit: inhabitat]

Good news for solar panel makers as electricity-starved India starts on a massive expansion plan, reports Reuters (in NewsDaily):

India’s $100 billion push into solar energy over the next decade will be driven by foreign players as uncompetitive local manufacturers fall by the wayside, no longer protected by government restrictions on the sector.

The money pouring into India’s solar industry is likely to be soaked up by foreign-organized projects such as one run by China’s Trina Solar – not the country’s own solar panel manufacturers.

Last week, Softbank became the latest foreign player to enter India’s solar market, leading an investment of up to $20 billion. The Japanese firm said it would consider making solar panels locally, but with Taiwan’s Foxconn rather than a local manufacturer.

Many Indian solar panel producers have benefited over the past six months from a surge in demand for panels not yet fulfilled by foreign companies. But their small scale and outdated technology will quickly make itself felt when the global players arrive.

“The smaller manufacturers of India, especially the cell manufacturers, will be adversely hit because they are unable to compete both on technology and even on price structures,” said Jasmeet Khurana at solar consultancy Bridge To India.

India’s solar panel makers can no longer turn to the Indian government for help. The government is more concerned about creating jobs quickly and ensuring plentiful power supply in a country known for its many blackouts.

Full report: India's $100 billion solar push draws foreign firms as locals take backseat | NewsDaily.
Whether at least some of the proposed mountain of cash could be better spent on other more efficient methods of energy production is obviously another matter.

  1. manicbeancounter says:

    This investment in solar panels could be great news for Indians fed up with blackouts. In future the lights will only go out when the sun goes down.

    [reply] who needs lights when the sun is shining?

  2. M Simon says:

    If only there was a way to collect Dark Energy.

  3. craigm350 says:

    $100b would go a long way to relieve poverty and bring cheap reliable power to the continent. The decision to outsource is strange. They have a space program but a few solar panels elude them?

  4. craigm350 says:

    Reblogged this on CraigM350.

  5. manicbeancounter says:

    $100bn seems at lot of money, and that should get a lot of solar panels for that. But will it make a significant difference?
    A few rounded numbers might help.
    India has 1250 million people, so the investment represents $80 or £50 per capita.
    Solar panels cost about £1500 per kilowatt capacity. Big sites might get the cost down, but then you have grid connections on top of that, which are not present if you stick solar panels to the roof of the house in the UK. So that gives about 34 watts of capacity per capita. With output at 10% of capacity, that is 30 kWh/capita·yr
    In 2010 India an average electricity use of 700 kWh/capita·yr, so solar ain’t going to do much to close the gap on China (3000), UK (5800) or the USA (13400).

  6. oldbrew says:

    They seem to be phasing out subsidies to buyers too.

    ‘India’s 100GW target may stupefy the doubters, but it is clearly a necessity to aim high, and quickly.’

  7. hunter says:

    Follow the money.
    India is pulling back on subsidies for solar. Solar will see the sun set on that industry, and we all know what happens to solar when the sun (and subsidies) goes dark.

  8. E.M.Smith says:

    I’m going to do the unusual for me and advance the position that, perhaps, this isn’t as silly as it seems.

    The Urban part of India is not the problem. They have power (even if irregular – often from local wiring failures, rather like the monkeys eating insulation from communications wires BTW).

    The problem is all the small remote villages with nothing. Zip. Nada.

    Getting centralized power delivered to those millions would require a load of poles, copper, aluminum high power lines, etc. etc. Building a grid is not cheap, and takes a long time.

    In many remote villages, tiny scale solar is already making a difference. One panel, one 12v car battery, one inverter. It then lets locals charge cell phones. So what? That isn’t just communications, it is also the ability to move money… Then, as night falls, a single LED or CFL bulb lets folks read and do crafts that otherwise stop at sunset, or require burning scarce fuels. In some villages, they run ONE TV set with educational channels on it. Large parts of the village, for the first time ever, get education and news.

    That is not a theoretical, it is already being done and already showing significant gains. Just limited in number of villages right now.

    During the day, that one small panel also lets folks run radios, charge batteries (for all sorts of things – in some places there is even a business in selling power to charge batteries for folks needing a bit of light from a portable lantern – as many places use, or used, kerosene in a particularly inefficient way for lighting from mantel type lanterns, this is a huge win), even run low power grain mills and such. True live style improvers for these folks.

    So while I agree entirely that a giant solar farm grid connected to run cities is a bit daft, it makes a lot of sense in remote villages where it can cost 10 times that much to run a set of poles and wires for miles…

  9. p.g.sharrow says:

    Mr Smith is very correct. For a remote site, solar and wind can provide a considerable improvement in the quality of life and not at great cost. But for city/industrial power needs they are Not a solution. Never will be. I doubt city people would want to live under those kind of conditions for a life time. Kind of like city people Think that they could live as yeomen farmers on a small piece of dirt. Far too ignorant to even have an idea the reality of it. pg

  10. oldbrew says:

    Are we to believe India is going to spend $100 billion on remote rural areas? Seems unlikely.

  11. p.g.sharrow says:

    @oldbrew; they will if Carbon Taxed westerners provide it! OPM will pay for this. pg

  12. michael hart says:

    If the choice is one between no electricity at all and some electricity during the daytime in a remote area off-grid then it’s an improvement. Indians should be free to make the best choice for them, but in the long run they will want it 24/7/365, just like us.
    Who is paying?

    [reply] the customers presumably, maybe with help from IREDA

  13. oldbrew says:

    Times of India not impressed by the country’s solar power rush.

    ‘100,000 MW of solar power by 2022 will constitute maybe a quarter of total power capacity. This will upset the whole grid, since solar power disappears when the sun sets, just as electricity demand rises to its daily peak, with homes switching on lights and stoves. Meeting peak needs will require a big cushion of idle thermal power during the day, a huge hidden cost of solar power.’

    Or more power cuts, if the ‘huge hidden cost’ isn’t paid in full.