I love being a staff writer for 3BL Media/Justmeans on topics - Social Innovation, Social Enterprise and Social Entrepreneurs. When I am not writing for 3BL Media/Justmeans, I wear my other hat as owner of Serendipity PR. Over the years I have worked with high-profile, big, powerful brands and organisations within the public, not-for-profit and corporate sectors; and won awards from my industry....
India's Aggressive Social Innovation Plans To Be A World Leader in Solar Energy
India has become a key market for U.S. solar technology developers and social innovation, as the Indian government has aggressive plans to boost solar energy generation to both reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and to establish the nation as world leader in solar energy. This government objective is further supported by its National Solar Mission to see 22 gigawatts of solar power flowing through India's electric grid by 2022. The Mission launched in 2010 aims to create conditions for the diffusion of solar energy across this vast sub-continent as quickly as possible.
Thrusting this social innovation forward, in the state of Rajasthan, which is in the northwest of India, there are the beginnings of what will be one of the largest solar power plant in Asia - a 250-megawatt project! It will be led by U.S. Silicon Valley-based Areva Solar who will complete the project in two phases; the first 125 megawatts to be live by May 2013 and the second phase will start delivering power in late 2014 or early 2015. Jayesh Goyal, Areva's global vice president of sales says, "India is a market with a high electricity demand and a favourable regime for renewable energy."
The Export-Import Bank of the U.S., which allows loans and loan guarantees, has played a big role in supporting the export of U.S. made solar energy equipment to India. Since the start of the financial year 2011, it has approved $256.7milliion for solar power projects. This amount includes $80.32 million for Reliance Power which was announced this April to develop the 250-megawatt project that makes use of Areva's social innovation technology. The project is covered by the National Solar Mission. Areva looked to India for opportunities, especially as the U.S. market itself is becoming less lucrative for solar thermal power plant development.
Other states in India have their own solar policies and incentives. The most noted one is in the state of Gujarat, which first announced a solar policy in 2009. It recently celebrated the installation of 600 megawatts of solar power social innovation projects. The state has attracted many U.S. solar manufacturers and project developers. SunEdison, part of Missouri-based MEMC Electronic Materials has brought online 45 MW of solar projects in Gujarat.
However, though India is currently investing in lots of social innovation and solar power, developers like Areva do worry that the boom time could go bust. The growth so far has been driven by government incentives; which could end due to political change or a shortage of funds. This has happened in the larger European markets like Germany, Italy and Spain where the economic downturn has had a knock on effect on solar investment.
Photo Credit: Tamilnadutour.co.in