By: Michael Graham Richard
This is huge
India might be short on many things, but sunlight isn’t one of those, which makes the country a perfect place for solar power. There’s starting to be some political support for the clean source of energy (India is currently very dependent on coal) up to the highest levels of government, with the new prime minister Narendra Modi wanting to use it as a way to bring power to the 400 million Indians who are currently lacking access to electricity. Modi (pictured below) has set a goal of 100 gigawatts of solar capacity, which would be a big jump from the 4.1 gigawatts that are currently connected to the grid. At about $1 per watt, that is estimated to cost about $94 billion, a substantial sum in any country, and even moreso in India.
But solar in India is also starting to attract the attention of businesspeople with deep pockets, like Japan’s Masayoshi Son, the founder and CEO of SoftBank, a very large global telecommunication and technology company (with stakes in SoftBank Mobile in Japan, Sprint in the U.S., Alibaba in China, etc). He is said to want to invest $20 billion over the next 10 years, working with Bharti Enterprises Pvt and Foxconn Technology Group, to build about 20 gigawatts of new solar capacity in the country. This investment alone could represent about 1/5 of Modi’s solar target.
India has two times more sunshine than Japan and construction costs for solar parks that are half those of Japan, Son said. “Twice the sunshine, half the cost; that means four times more efficient,” Son said. “So it makes a lot of sense to create large-scale solar power generation.”
The solar panels will probably be manufactured in India, and sites in Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh states are being considered.