The Indian government is wasting huge amounts of solar power because the panels are too expensive to operate, according to a letter sent to the government Monday by the country’s green energy ministry.
The letter explains that the Indian government is shutting down solar panels because they are unreliable and conventional energy from coal plants is almost always cheaper.
“Some load dispatch centres (LDCs) are asking solar projects to back down due to various reasons,” Tarun Kapoor, Joint Secretary of India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy wrote in a letter to the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission. “This problem has been going on for the past two months. There are shutdowns for up to two hours a day, resulting in daily losses of several [hundred thousand Indian rupees].”
The amount of electricity generated by wind turbines and solar panels is inefficient and doesn’t coincide with times of day when power is most needed. This poses an enormous safety challenge to grid operators and makes power grids vastly more fragile.
The government’s green energy ministry wants to solve the problem by paying solar companies for any electricity generated, even if it isn’t used.
India’s power grid is already extremely fragile, as the country is spending quite a bit supporting solar power. The country increased solar subsidies by a factor of eight last year, raising the amount spent from $92 million to $770 million annually. India got a series of loans worth $1.5 billion in January from international financial institutions for rooftop solar power.
Despite the vast investment in solar power, 2014 Indian carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from energy use increased by 8.1 percent, making it the world’s fastest-growing producer of the greenhouse gases, which allegedly drives global warming. India and the rest of the developing world are projected to produce 68 percent of the CO2 emissions allegedly linked to anthropogenic global warming, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) published in May.
Currently, India gets only two percent of its electricity from solar panels, while coal plants provide 67 percent of the nation’s power. India is currently building 87,122 megawatts of coal power capacity as an estimated 400 million Indians, or 31 percent of the population, lack access to electricity.
Attempts to reduce the CO2 emissions of developing economies like India have historically been very ineffective as they are inevitably costly and reduce economic growth.
India isn’t the only developing Asian country being forced to waste large amounts of green energy. China is wasting enough wind energy to power Great Britain, according to the Worldwatch Institute, an environmentalist think tank.
China generates more wind power than any other country on Earth. China invested almost $103 billion in green energy in 2015, making it the world’s largest green investor.
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