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India approves €1 bln German solar power program to combat global warming

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The Indian Cabinet has approved a proposal by Germany — one of the pioneers in developing solar power in the world — to provide concessional loans of around 1 bln euro to develop the renewable energy source in the country.

India has an ambitious, almost impossible, target of achieving 175 gigawatt of renewable energy capacity over the next seven years — most of it from solar. India currently has less than 40 GW of renewable (and around 250 GW of non-renewable power). The USA, in comparison, has less than 25 GW of solar power capacity at present.

Germany is one of the top producers of solar power in the world despite getting much less sunlight compared to India and having a much smaller geographic area.

The agreement with Germany will help in strengthening bilateral cooperation between the two countries, the government said.

Under the agreement, Germany would provide concessional loans in the range of one billion Euros over the next five years through Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (KfW). The funds of KfW will also be utilized for providing soft loans to the end-users through partner banks.

The agreement focuses on cooperation in the field of solar rooftops, an area of particular expertise for the European country and in the development of solar parks or solar zones.

The parks would be built close to the Green Energy Corridors financed by KfW under Indo-German Financial Cooperation if possible, the Government added.

Germany will also help India in creating off-grid applications to improve the access to clean and sustainable energy.

The total solar photo-voltaic (excluding steam-based and other thermal forms of generation) capacity in the world is estimated to have jumped to around 180 GW at the end of last year, up from around 145 GW at the end of 2013.

Much of the growth is coming from China, which saw installed capacity go from 18.6 GW to 28.2 GW, and the rest of the Asia Pacific. Europe still leads the world in terms of installed capacity with a total of 87 GW at the end of last year.

India had practically no solar power capacity till about five years ago. However, under the guidance of Farooq Abdullah, India created the ‘Jawaharlal Nehru Solar Mission’ in 2010, with a target of having 22 GW of solar power capacity by 2022. The target was increased by the Modi government to 100 GW soon after it came to power.

Germany and other developed countries are trying to prevent India and China from following the same developmental model they had adopted.

If India and China tries to increase their citizen’s living standards in the same way the US and Europe did, the world would face a catastrophic future due to global warming.

The price of solar energy has come down drastically in India from around Rs 16 per unit (kWh) to around Rs 4.60 per kWh due to highly efficient production of solar panels by China.

While the cost of putting up 1 watt of solar power capacity (on a larger scale) was around 3-5 dollars five years ago, today, it has fallen to around 1.3 dollar in India, with panel costs down to just Rs 45 (66 cents) per watt.

It is expected that within 5-7 years, most big establishments across the world would generate a substantial chunk, if not the whole of, their energy requirement in-house using solar panels.

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