Taipei, Monday, March 2, 2015 01:55 (GMT+8)
mostly cloudy
India solar market shines
Jackie Chang, DIGITIMES, Taipei [Friday 26 April 2013]

Due to lack of sufficient electricity, there are around 400 million people in India that do not have access to any form of electricity, said a report by Voice of America. This is why the country is in desperate need to develop solar installations. To boost the domestic solar industry, the India government plans to set a percentage of India-made solar products in solar installations, said a report by The Wall Street Journal.

According to The Guardian, the US has asked the World Trade Organization (WTO) to consult with the India government on its solar program that includes the requirement of using domestic content. The two countries have been in dispute over this issue as US-based firms have been providing 60% of solar cells and panels used in solar power plants in India, according to The Wall Street Journal.

India is a country where sunshine is abundant. According to a report by The Times of India, Marathwada, a region in the central state of Maharashtra, has almost 330 sunny days a year. According to the same report, this is why many petrol station owners have been adopting solar panels to generate electricity. In addition, India has a serious problem with load shedding, also known as rolling blackout. In the region of Marathwada, most areas face eight hours of load shedding a day, and in some rural regions, 18 hours a day, said the report. By adopting solar installations, the petrol stations can save costs on diesel generators, the report added.

Power shortage is a huge problem in India. Hence the government has been eager to develop the solar market. The government announced the ambitious goal of producing 20,000MW in solar power by 2022 through its national program, the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission. According to the Wall Street Journal report, the India government said solar power generation capacity will increase more than 10,000MW by March 2017 and by that time, the government will spend close to US$1.1 billion in subsidies.

Tata Power, an India-based energy provider, "plans to set up a 28.8MW solar plant near Satara, Maharashtra", said a report from India-based news media, The Hindu. The firm has set a target of generating 26,000MW of electricity from solar energy by 2020, according to the same report.

With ambitious goals and ample sunshine hours, India is set to become a big solar market. However, like all the other emerging solar markets, the government is trying to protect and nurture the domestic solar industry. This is bound to limit the access of international firms, and hence may stir up a trade war. But, I think in order for India to reduce reliance on imported energy and to provide uninterrupted access of electricity, protectionism is necessary.

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