India is the world’s second most populous country, and one of the fastest growing economies. Several projections put future India as the world’s most populous country and the world’s third largest economy by 2050, so if we are to truly combat global warming and achieve a sustainable future for the planet, India will be a key player.
Looking at India’s development over the past few decades has been quite a rollercoaster. With poverty running rampant through many parts of the country and a severe lack of infrastructure in the rural areas, it was surprising and inspiring to see the country’s ambitions in terms of renewable energy. In recent years, India has become one of the best markets for solar energy, with more and more panels being installed every day.
There are over 300 million people currently living in India with no access to electricity, most of which live in rugged, inaccessible areas. Establishing a conventional grid would be incredibly costly, but this is the beauty of solar power: it doesn’t really require a conventional grid. Aside from being renewable, clean, and cheap, solar can work with a local or separated grid.
Still, despite India investing massively in renewable energy (mostly solar), they’ve also developed a backup plan — also committing to fossil fuel energy, especially coal; pretty much the dirtiest source of energy. Last year, India announced plans to build more than 300 gigawatts (GW) of new coal capacity by 2030, even though that was found to be almost entirely unnecessary and wasteful, as over 90% of that new capacity would remain idle. Basically, the Indian government remained determined to not put all their eggs in one basket and invest both in renewable and fossil fuel energy.