16.05.2019

More energy, more climate change mitigation: India backs solar power

India’s energy needs are increasing. In order to make power supplies more reliable, greener and cheaper, the government is expanding the solar energy sector.

India’s economy is growing rapidly and its energy needs are increasing. The International Energy Agency estimates that by 2040, double the amount of energy currently used on the subcontinent will be required. As a result, the country is facing enormous challenges, including the issue of climate change mitigation. A few years ago, the power supply in India was considered expensive, unreliable and harmful to the environment. In order to quench the thirst for energy, the country threw its weight behind coal.

But what’s the situation like today? One of India’s major priorities is to develop green, efficient and sustainable solutions to cater to the growing energy needs. As part of its targets drawn up under the Paris Agreement, the country pledged to increase its non-fossil-fuel-based energy capacity to 40 per cent by 2030. The government has targeted renewable energy capacities of 175 gigawatts (GW) by 2022 – including 40 GW provided by rooftop photovoltaic systems alone. By comparison, photovoltaic systems in Germany currently generate 46GW of energy.

The German Environment Ministry and Development Ministry are supporting the Indian Government in promoting renewable energy on the subcontinent. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is implementing the project. There is a particular focus on simple modular rooftop photovoltaic systems. They can produce electricity and therefore play a role in supplying carbon-neutral energy – around the clock with the help of a battery.

Producing and storing energy autonomously is possible thanks to a simple technical solution GIZ helped develop. The photovoltaic modules are available to order online and local technicians install them. 1,000 solar installers are currently receiving training to help fit individual systems locally for customers and promote the spread of the simple photovoltaic systems. In comparison to conventional energy sources, it is possible to reduce annual CO2 emissions by around two tonnes per rooftop photovoltaic system. To put this in perspective: it takes a spruce tree around 100 years to absorb a comparable amount of CO2 from the air and convert it into oxygen.

The online portal for processing orders and the installation of the rooftop photovoltaic systems is currently being tested in five Indian states. The website also administers the payment of state subsidies for the systems. In the state of Gujarat alone, 34,000 photovoltaic systems have been registered within four months. As soon as they are installed, they can reduce CO2 emissions by around 169 million tonnes. By way of comparison, this exceeds the annual CO2 emissions of the German Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia (155 million tonnes).

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