The Indian solar power market is heating up, really heating up. As I wrote in November, the Indian government is aiming to invest $1 billion into renewable energy in the coming few years, and it has raised its 2022 solar power capacity target from 22 gigawatts to 100 gigawatts. That would be 50 times more solar power capacity than it had at the end of 2013, when the total was a little more than 2 gigawatts.
For some more perspective, the US solar power market has just passed 16 gigawatts.
By just about any standard, adding nearly 11 gigawatts of solar power capacity a year is huge. One way that India is planning to reach its targets is by developing what it calls "ultra mega solar power projects." One of these first projects is a 750-megawatt solar power project planned for Madhya Pradesh. (750 megawatts is almost as much solar power capacity as the United States added in all of 2010.)The project has just received a commitment from the World Bank to provide a 50% soft loan. “The rest will be borne by the joint venture of Centre and the state,” Madhya Pradesh Energy and Mining Minister and New and Renewable Energy Minister Rajendra Shukla told reporters in India.
“A team of World Bank team has visited Gudh and found the tract of barren land for commissioning the project most appropriate."
Tremendous support for solar power from the current Indian government, particularly the relatively new prime minister, Narendra Modi, is critical to this solar power growth. However, the increasingly low cost of solar power is also an essential factor. As I wrote a month and a half ago, solar power projects have been offering electricity prices lower than natural gas and coal in India, the UAE, Chile, Brazil, and the US (and I'm sure other places as well). And that's with prices locked in for a couple of decades or so. It's almost guaranteed that coal and natural gas prices will rise considerably in that time.
For decades, it seemed that cost-competitive solar power was just beyond the horizon. Those days are over. Solar has arrived.