Here’s another one for my collection of news on the changing economics of climate protection. According to a Bloomberg report, power from solar cells is now cheaper than power from diesel in India. Given that more than 400 million people have no access to electricity and demand frequently exceeds supply in India, this has the makings of a game-changer.
India joins pockets of Italy, Spain and Hawaii where rising fuel costs and lower panel prices make solar pay for itself without state subsidies, New Energy Finance data show. Factories and homes in the Asian nation switch on emergency diesel-fired generators during chronic blackouts and to bridge gaps in the power-delivery grid as the government prepares a $400 billion program through 2017 to curb the shortfall and spur growth. (…)
Winners of India’s national solar-capacity auction in December agreed to supply power for an average rate of 8.78 rupees (17 cents) a kilowatt-hour by early 2013.
In comparison, electricity from burning state-subsidized diesel costs generators about 17 rupees, according to Charanjit Singh, an energy analyst at HSBC Holdings Plc. The cheapest power comes from burning coal, which is about 4 rupees a kilowatt-hour, though users must be connected to the grid.
Mittal’s Bharti Airtel Ltd. (BHARTI), India’s largest mobile-phone operator, and Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd. (JI), the world’s biggest mango-puree producer and supplier to Coca-Cola, are among companies swapping diesel generators for photovoltaic modules. (…)
India, the third-biggest energy user behind China and the U.S., has a goal to have installed 20,000 megawatts of solar- energy capacity by 2022, about equal to 18 new nuclear reactors.
That target is 10 percent of today’s total generating capacity including all energy sources. Less than 1 percent of that current power base is solar.