India Sets Out Plans For Huge 20GW Solar Installation

India has decided to push ahead with a vastly ambitious plan to tap the power of the sun to generate clean electricity, and after a meeting chaired by the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, it wants rich nations to pay the bill.

India plans to have 20GW installed by 2020 and 200GW installed by 2050. That's more that the entire peak demand in India currently. For comparison Germany the world leader in installed solar capacity thanks to its renewables feed in tariff; right now has 3,830 megawatts or just 3.8 GW. From this it is easy to see that the targets are extremely ambitious.

Solar power is perticularly applicable to India because it allow off grid access to electricity for millions of poor Indians who do not currently have the luxury of a grid connection. India's neighbour Bangladesh is currently one of the biggest solar markets in the world where micro credit schemes have allowed people living off grid to purchase renewable power.

India has resolutely proclaimed that it will not sign up to binding emissions or carbon intensity targets at Copenhagen. It maintains (and rightly so), that India is not historically responsible for green house gases and still has one of the lowest per capita emissions in the world. Indian will not sacrifice development for the Copenhagen deal, however India knows it has alot to loose from climate change and that it is particularly vulnerable to changes in Monsoon patterns and melting Himalayan glaciers. This announcement on solar power gives India a bargaining tool to bring to the table at Copenhagen as this amount of solar capacity would save huge amounts of emissions in the future.  It will also hasten the transfer of clean technology to the developing world.

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