Indian solar ambitions take shape as costs tumble
NEW DELHI (AFP) - Electricity-hungry India is flipping the switch on huge new solar energy projects to fuel its growing economy, using cheap - mainly Chinese - foreign technology to reduce once sky-high generation costs to competitive levels.
Since 2010, India has hiked installed solar power capacity from a meagre 17.8 megawatts to more than 2,000MW, official figures show, as part of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's aim to make "the sun occupy centre-stage" in the country's energy mix.
Key to the progress has been a rapid fall in the cost per unit of solar electricity to close to what is known as "grid parity" - the cost of conventional electricity generated by carbon-gas emitting coal.
"The world is watching the ability of Indian entrepreneurs to achieve grid parity for solar energy," India's World Bank country director Onno Ruhl said recently.