India is among the nations at the forefront of the energy transformation that is taking all over the globe. However, what about the countries not at the forefront or in the middle-front for that matter?
The United Nations Millennium Development Goals have envisioned universal access to electric power by the year 2030. But if we look at the poorer countries of Asia and Africa, it becomes apparent that much needs to be done before the goal of 100 percent world electrification is achieved. And, electric power is not just something that lights up bulbs and runs the fans. Electricity is also an employment provider, economy booster and quality of life improver. India realizes this because of its own struggles with energy self-sufficiency and hence is a leading voice in the world today, calling for sustainable energy pricing.
Nearly half of the African population, and that is one large continent, lacks access to energy. After the push for renewables, as much as 10 percent of the continent is now using off-grid solar power. But again, the amount of power being generated is not creating the jobs and the infrastructure necessary for economic growth because it is off-grid and severely limited. So, while the prospect of universal electric accessibility seems appealing, it is limited in its scope for economic growth whether it be in Africa or Asia or any other part of the world.
Only by stabilizing the sustainable energy pricing, including solar, wind, hydel and other such sources for it, can the envisioned Millennium Development Goals can be brought to fruition. For example, in India, recently two records for lowest solar tariff were broken within two days, this tells you about the level of competition solar is generating for the Indian market and how it can play an important role in not only the country’s energy transformation but also its economic prosperity.
One of the major focus of solar energy penetration should be the urban and peri-urban areas. Because these are the places where the electric use is higher and the users feel its economic consequences more acutely. For example, India’s national capital region which includes Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Ghaziabad, and Faridabad has witnessed a high adoption rate for rooftop solar solutions, thus helping in economic transformation of the region. Users are not only saving money on their electricity bills but are also utilizing the savings to invest elsewhere, hence driving consumer spending. On the other hand, the scope of rural solar is limited in that sense because the electricity tariff is already subsidized for the farmers, so the solar payback takes a longer time to arrive and hence the savings are less in the real sense.
It is time that the world heeds India’s call and makes a comprehensive plan for investment in green energy in the poor countries of the world to stabilize sustainable energy pricing. If achieved, such an initiative can change the way our global communities interact, give the whole world an economic boost, and most importantly, it can transform lives.