As someone who has been vocally critical about the lack of attention towards Renewable Energy in India and towards Solar Energy in particular, I am glad to say that I have reason to celebrate today. After the small steps taken by the State Governments of Haryana, Karnataka and by municipalities in Maharashtra, news comes in today vide The Hindu about a massive Central Government plan to make India a global leader in solar energy generation: http://www.hindu.com/2009/04/26/stories/2009042660422200.htm
There are few countries in the world that have India's potential as far as solar energy is concerned. Some of the most pleasant climate in the world and almost 325 -plus days of sunshine across the country make it a most sensible exercise to look at this abundant resource and use it to generate power and to warn water for the use of the Indian people, not to forget the fact that this is bound to reduce the huge amounts of foreign exchange that India sends out to import coal and crude oil. After some so-called "experts" came up with idiotic pronouncements about solar energy in the recent past, I was personally disillusioned about what was happening, though this is fantastic news to say the least. I guess it had to happen - there might be the odd idiot but there are vastly more educated and concerned individuals in the country.
That said, I would like to stress that this positive beginning will take hard work as far as implementation is concerned. I have always been supportive of Indian tax support for renewable energy products - this is even better. India has huge amounts of foreign aid as well as governmental funds available for various projects. A careful focus on this new Solar Mission can only save billions in foreign exchange and also clean the country's air up. Let us not forget that India was one of the world's pioneers in harnessing wind power, at a time when the country was poor and foreign exchange was a scarce commodity. With some of the world's best engineers and with money available now, there is no reason why, with some effort, the country cannot become a solar energy powerhouse.
I see several advantages in this apart form savings in foreign exchange, reduced pollution, and this blog's all-important aim of showing fossil fuels the fist:
1. Increased employment from training lakhs of new workers in installing and servicing solar systems
2. Increased secondary employment from transportation, marketing, billing and other office services for businesses that will become involved in this field
3. More research and development leading to this sector advancing faster and innovation bringing better products by the day
4. Better foreign exchange earnings - make no mistake: a huge market like India will require more and more companies to set up manufacturing facilities in the country and then to export them from India. If Hyundai does this for cars, take it from me - manufacturers of solar systems will do the same as well
5. Reduced spending on healthcare as pollution drops. People who are less sick will automatically save more money as they will not have to spend it on medical treatment
And the list could go on . . . right now, I am not going to think about making it longer. I need to celebrate.