Even if 10% of India’s energy needs can be met by solar, it would be a huge contribution in taking the edge off peak load on the existing grid.
Solar panel prices have dropped by over 50% during the past year, and those of the supporting hardware — including cables, connectors, inverters — will continue to drop at a slower rate. Overall, system prices now are practically at “grid parity” — the price per unit of electricity is comparable to the price of coal-based power. This is especially the case when the costs of greenhouse gas emissions from burning coal, an “externality”
The attributes of the two kinds of electricity are different, however — one is polluting and causes global warming, the other is clean. One is continuous, and the other is intermittent. Yet the two can work with synergy, as net metering solutions work in the U.S. The “edge” solar power generating households contribute excess power to the grid during sunny days and draw from the grid when the sun does not shine. The net electricity bill for a solar power-generating household can be zero.
In India, not only can solar generation work as a complement to the grid as above, but it can also alleviate having 400 million citizens without electricity. In the age of smartphones, broadband, HD televisions and microwaves, this absence seems hard to believe. Many of these people live in rural areas where grid extension is not economical; solar energy for self-sufficiency is one immediate and affordable solution.
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