India's remarkable growth in solar power, which TreeHugger has been following for some time, has gained the nation another superlative: According to new analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, India led the world in 2011 for green power growth.
In 2011 India invested $10.3 billion in renewable energy, creating 52% growth in the sector. Solar power growth was particularly impressive, with investment increasing 700% over 2010 levels last year. Even then, the $4.2 billion invested in solar power in 2011 slightly trailed investment in wind power, which reached $4.6 billion.
India's investment in renewable energy last year amounted to 4% of all investment in clean energy made worldwide.
In terms of added renewable energy capacity: India added a national record 2.827 GW of wind power, bringing India into third place for new installations globally in 2011. Grid-connected solar power climbed from just 18 MW in 2010 to 2.777 GW in 2011. Nearly a further gigawatt of solar power is expected to come online in 2012.
Ashish Sethia, India research head at BNEF, summed up the Indian renewables surge:
The surge of installation of renewable energy shows that it is becoming cost competitive and scalable, at a time when India is struggling to meet its targets for conventional power capacity. To carry this momentum forward on renewables, federal and state governments will have to ensure four things: First, that transmission lines are available for project; second, that the grid can handle an increased flow of renewable energy; third, that renewable purchase obligations are enforced; and, fourth, that project developers are paid on time for the power they produce.
India's National Solar Mission aims for 20 GW of solar power by 2022, with the first phase just ending. As we've previously reported, India will fall short of the targets outlined in that plan. But BNEF points out that for the period April 2007 to March 2012, covered by India's 11th five-year plan, the nation will actually exceed its targets for solar power, installing 14.2 GW, nearly 2 GW more than aimed for.