While Modi has been criticized by many, there is one thing that he has demonstrated his ability to do: energy development. This is a huge move in a country that has been plagued by blackouts and lacks access to power.
Modi’s Track Record
Modi was the CM of Gujarat when he implemented large-scale solar power. The lessons from this project will likely be used by BJP to bring it into reality. Modi also managed to privatize some major energy companies in Gujarat and make them profitable. Modi could take similar steps to achieve his goal at the national level. While the obstacles at the national level may be greater (more legal hurdles and more people to convince), Modi has proven his ability to overcome them. Modi and the BJP will be the biggest obstacles to this project’s success.
The BJP aims to supply enough power to each household in order to be able to run two lamps, a solar cooker, and a TV by 2019. This will be primarily through renewable energy. This is a very ambitious goal as 400 million Indians lack basic power. Given India’s growing environmental and pollution problems, this is a very important goal. The convener of BJP’s energy division stated, “We see solar as having the potential for completely changing the way that we view the energy space.” This is especially true in India due to its size and geographic location.
What amount of energy could India get from solar? It could be a lot.
A large part of the population lives in rural areas and is therefore unable to access power. It will be fascinating to see who gets access to new solar power. Jagadish Thakur is a doctoral student at George Washington University. He was also coauthor of “Shifting discourses on climate change in India.
Think Progress interviewed him:
We need to be careful about domestic equity. Who loses and who gains? Which groups will be benefited by more investments in clean energies? Will the wealthy continue to enjoy undue benefits or will rural areas have uninterrupted electricity supply? Solar power that reaches primarily urban consumers will increase the gap in power between rural and urban populations.
Fight with the USA
India has been trying hard to increase its solar industry through high tariffs on imports from foreign countries. The US threatened to sue India at the WTO over its unfair trade policies. India also indicated that they may have concerns about the US’s treatment for the solar industry. These trade disputes have the potential of stifling the growth in solar in India. American environmentalists support Indian trade policies as they believe India has the potential to have widespread solar power.
It will be a huge step forward for the world if India can implement large-scale solar power. India is an important country for the future development of renewable energy. It is a large-developing nation, and therefore faces two of the biggest obstacles: lack of money, and excess demand. It will be fascinating to see how this plays out in India as well as other countries. (Pakistan also has large-scale solar projects in the works!)