By APALYADHAL, APTN, NAGAPUR, INDIA–(AP) India is trying to build a clean-energy powerhouse that would rival China’s.
Its plans to become the world’s biggest clean-tech power player and generate more than $500 billion a year in revenue are making it the world leader in the area, but it also has the toughest hurdles in building up its capacity to supply electricity to its 1.2 billion people.
The country faces a host of obstacles in harnessing clean-power resources, including its dependence on coal and a lack of cheap gas.
But the world-leading solar project that could help India become the leading player in this nascent sector is a unique example of a clean energy investment that’s being built in a country that has a relatively small economy.
In a move that could reshape India’s energy strategy, the government on Monday announced that it will build a large solar power plant in a coastal region of northern India to power the national grid.
The government is also seeking to build power plants in the country’s southern and central regions, and the plans are likely to spark a new round of public-private partnerships, experts said.
India’s plan for a clean power project is likely to put the spotlight on a major problem: India’s large and growing population.
India is expected to have more than one billion people by 2050.
The country’s power sector is projected to be worth more than 2 trillion rupees ($370 billion), or more than four times the amount spent on the health care system.
But even that amount will be dwarfed by the estimated value of the country.
In the years to come, India’s power capacity will reach about 7.5 trillion rupee ($1.4 trillion), the government said.
That’s just a fraction of China’s projected 7.7 trillion ruplees, but its size could be just as important.
China is expected in 2020 to have around 7.8 trillion rupeles in total.
That’s almost double India’s 6.6 trillion rupled.
India needs to become more efficient, which requires cleaner energy sources, especially wind and solar.
That could help it grow its economy, which accounts for a fifth of India’s gross domestic product.
But its reliance on coal, which produces around a third of the nation’s energy, is also limiting its ability to meet its energy needs.
It also requires more efficient energy production and storage, and that’s what the country is trying.
India has pledged to build solar power plants that will generate power at least three times as fast as wind power plants, and it plans to start building the first large-scale solar plant in the southern state of Rajasthan, a state with a large population.
That could help the country become the largest clean- energy power player in the world, with a potential to help India meet its ambitious energy goals.
India is already the world market leader in solar power, according to an analysis by the International Energy Agency.
Its project to build its first power plant will help India move beyond coal, and will allow it to become a leader in clean energy, said Arun Kumar, an analyst with Energy Investment Research Associates, a London-based energy research and consulting firm.
The solar power project in northern India will be financed by a government loan of about $1 billion, he said.
The project will be a key step in building India’s renewable-energy infrastructure, Kumar said.
It is likely that the government will borrow more than the loan amount, but that may depend on how the project is developed.
“It could be a case of the government borrowing more than it has to, but if the government doesn’t do this then the project will not be funded,” he said, adding that a private investor could help finance the project.
The plan is the latest in a series of projects that are being touted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he seeks to diversify the economy and create jobs.
Modi’s government has promised to double India to 200 million by 2022, a goal that has not been met.
India has been investing heavily in clean-technology industries, such as biofuels, wind turbines and solar panels, but the country has a long way to go to match China in terms of renewable-power production.