India’s Solar Revolution – Small Is Big
November 16, 2012
Let’s start with hard reality: The grid is never coming to rural India. No matter what ‘very serious policy-makers’ want to believe, decades of attempts and huge gains in supply have yielded little increase in electrification. More importantly, off-grid solar installations have been dramatically cheaper than grid extensionfor a while because they compete with the huge costs of extending the grid and the huge costs of diesel and heavily polluting kerosene. That’s why the future ofrural electrification is decentralized clean energy something even the very serious IEA recognizes.But it’s not just the IEA that gets this; politicians are catching on as well. Take Nitish Kumar the chief minister of Bihar whose sole political platform is delivering energy access to the 100 million people of Bihar. To achieve this lofty goal (only 18% of the population currently has access) Bihar’s going to need a distributed clean energy revolution because coal-gate has deepened the already immense problems of the coal sector making the possibility of a coal-fired future impossible. If Kumar wants to remain in office, he has to rely on distributed solar.
And, of course, distributed grid tied installations reduce peak load which can help avoid blackouts. You know, like the historic one India just suffered. In short, distributed is the way to go.–The US finally got around to totaling our solar installations and we were surprised at what we found. All those small scale distributed installations financed by third parties like Sungevity have added up to something really big — 2.5 GW, which represents about 70% of all US installations. So here’s a lesson for all those who love ‘scale': Small is big.