Earlier this week, India’s Energy Minister RK Singh suggested that the country is considering bidding for 100 gigawatts of solar power. PV Tech confirmed the report and added that the tender could be linked to the construction of solar panels. In 2015, India set a target of reaching 100 GW of solar capacity as part of its larger target of 175 GW of renewable energy overall by 2022. This final 100 GW tender would be a 2030 or 2035 target.
The existing goal is ambitious, so a stretchable goal further into the future is even more so. The country’s current total solar capacity is just 24.4 GW, according to The economic times. (For context, as of this month, the US has about 55.9 GW of total installed solar capacity.) But while the solar sector there is still small compared to the US, it is growing rapidly. Utility-scale solar capacity grew 72 percent last year, The economic times noted.
Johannes Urpelainen, an India-based fellow at the Columbia University Center on Global Energy Policy, said the 100GW tender would not be for one huge plant, but for financing small projects.
“Solar is very popular in India,” Urpelainen wrote to Ars. “It’s not expensive, Prime Minister Modi talks about it repeatedly, and people everywhere are seeing solar energy being used now. I’ve been going to India for the past six years and in 2012 solar energy was very rare. Now it’s everywhere.”
Maintaining the momentum of construction would be important for India, a country where explosive economic growth and a continued reliance on coal have resulted in horribly polluted cities and skylines drenched in smog. (Despite all this new solar power, India also added 4.6 GW of coal-fired capacity last year, the Time In his comments this week, Singh said there is an urgent need for renewable energy in India, where 20 of its cities are among the most polluted in the world.
In addition to adding capacity, India has also expanded its Inter-State Transmission System (ISTS).
Urpelainen told Ars that a single 100GW solar tender would be ambitious but achievable as long as the Indian economy continues to grow. “The cost of a 100GW tender at current prices could be in the range of $100 billion,” he said, “but renewable energy prices will continue to fall. However, if the government pushes for domestic production, the cost could be higher because the cheap Chinese panels would be inadmissible.”