India's National Solar Mission, 20 GW of Anti-Poor & Anti-Democratic Policy Implementation?

india solar panels photo
photo: technicolorcavalry/Creative Commons
India's National Solar Mission is certainly impressive in ambition: Over one gigawatt installed by 2013 and over 20 GW installed over about the next decade. So what's not to like about it? If you listen the words of Harish Hande, over at the World Economic Forum's blog, the program is "extremely well-intentioned" but the way India is implementing it is anti-poor and anti-democratic.
Some of us who have spent most of their careers in the field of rural solar see the solar mission as a major threat to the hard work of two decades. It attacks the very fabric of a sustainable model for reaching the poor with high-quality, need-based systems, deserved doorstep service and affordable financing. The very incentives needed have been ignored and trampled upon - by infusing unsustainable subsidies, under-designing prescribed products, and forcing low pricing and poor financing suggestions.

The mission specifies the type of product, the price and a confused financing structure. By defining the product configurations, it is killing innovation and choice for the poor. The design of most of the prescribed 11 products are heavily under-designed - a consequence that will be borne by the poor. The prices have been based on large solar installations, completely neglecting the after-sale services and sustainability of small and medium enterprises. It is the small and medium enterprises that create sustainable supply chains with solid after-sale services. The solar mission in its present design is a document on how to discourage small enterprises and supply the poor with low-quality systems.

My point in highlighting Hande's words is this: The National Solar Mission is a great example of a nation showing great courage in setting out concrete and ambitious renewable energy plans (saying this is what's going to be done and when it's going to be done by; making a conceptual) and then ignoring the best way to do this based on local conditions, misguiding mandating too many of the details. A perfect example of the devil being in the details.

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More on Solar Power:
India Outlines First Phase of 22 GW National Solar Mission = 1.3 GW by 2013
It's Finally Official - India's National Solar Mission Aims For 20 Gigawatts Solar Power by 2022
5000 MW of Solar Power in India Touted Under Clinton Climate Initiative Plans

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