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Here Comes The Sun: India On Verge Of Becoming Global Solar Power

India is on the brink of becoming a global solar power, according to a report just published by the World Bank. Under the government’s Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission Phase-1 (JNNSM), which was initiated in January 2010 to promote sustainable growth, broadly expand solar power, and deal with the effects of climate change, India’s installed capacity of solar power has already jumped from about 30 megawatts to more than 2,000 MW.

The World Bank noted that JNNSM has also helped bring down the cost of solar power to competitive levels – down to about $0.12 per kilowatt-hour for solar photovoltaic, and to $0.21 per kWh for concentrated solar power, thereby making India one of the world’s lowest-cost destinations for grid-connected solar power. “In a short span of three years, India has made impressive strides in developing its abundant solar power potential,” said Onno Ruhl, World Bank Country Director in India, according to The Hindu newspaper. “With more than 300 million people without access to energy and industry citing energy shortage as key growth barrier in India, solar power has the potential to help the country address the shortage of power for economic growth.”

Indeed, the solar park in Charanka in Gujarat is already the largest such facility in all of Asia. Of equal importance, the bank said, expansion of solar power would reduce India’s over-dependence on imports of coal and diesel for power generation, cut greenhouse gas emissions and also upgrade the nation’s energy security. The bank report also highlighted two special features of India’s solar program – the bundling of solar power with unallocated thermal generation and the introduction of “reverse auctioning.” The “bundling” of solar power with cheaper forms of conventional energy sources had cut solar power tariffs for distribution centers. The “reverse auction” process has allowed qualified bidders to enjoy the benefits of falling global prices of solar components.

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