India is furthering its ambitions to increase the accessibility of electricity to its citizens, as well as ensure sustainability as it develops. These goals have resulted in the Grid-Connected Rooftop Solar Projects, a project partially funded by the World Bank, and one that is supporting India’s goals to initiate a solar power revolution.
The State Bank of India announced its financing of the project on June 2, contributing Rs 400 crore. Funding has also come from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, local governments, borrowers, the Clean Technology Fund and the Global Environmental Facility.
Access to electricity is no small feat — much less a solar power revolution — considering the size of India’s growing population. According to 2016 data from the World Bank, India has a population density of 445 (or 445 people per square kilometer). With a population of 1.3 billion people, India is a significant consumer of electricity, although access to electricity is by no means ubiquitous.
The World Bank has reported that there are still 450 million people in India who do not have legal electrical connections, while the demand for energy is simultaneously increasing at a steady rate. This creates a unique phenomenon for the Indian government, which is pressed to increase electrical services to rural or impoverished areas.
With 97% of India’s population without access to electricity, there is a growing demand for the country to develop power providers that are accessible, but just as importantly, affordable.
The Indian government responded by developing the Remote Village Electrification Program in 2010, which provides “financial support for electrification of those remote unelectrified census villages and unelectrified hamlets of electrified villages where grid-extension is either not feasible or not cost-effective and are not covered under Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana,” the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy reported.
However, India’s focus is not only on providing electricity to its inhabitants. The country is also developing innovative solutions to fuel its growth through clean energy.
Through the financial support of the World Bank — which has provided more than $1 billion to support the project, according to WB calculations — India is working towards installing solar panels on rooftops across the country. The country has also pledged to obtain at least 40% of its energy needs from renewable sources by the year 2030. In other words, the country will be electrified through a singular, solar power revolution.
Funds from the World Bank will go towards the development of new technologies as well as the infrastructure needed to support privately developed solar parks across the country. The goal — to reach the maximum number of consumers with access to clean energy — tempered with a rapidly growing population. According to 2011 data from the World Bank, 273 million people within this population were living below the national poverty line.
“India’s efforts demonstrate its serious commitment to mitigate climate change,” the World Bank reported, “but more has to happen for millions of the country’s citizens to have some of the basic conveniences that electricity provides.”
– Hannah Pickering