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India arrived at the 21st Century with the challenge of providing equity to the 55% of its people who live in isolated poverty and off the electrical grid while at the same time preparing for a sustainable future for its 1.2 billion people who live in the world's most populous  democracy.

India came prepared. In 2009 Dr. Manmohan Singh became the first prime minister since Jawaharlal Nehru in 1957 and 1962 to be re-elected to a consecutive five-year term. Singh a member of the left leaning United Progressive Alliance and a trained economist understood the challenges. Under his leadership India averaged an economic growth rate of 7.5% for several years prior to 2007, and has more than doubled its hourly wage rates during the first decade of the 21st century.  Some 431 million Indians have left poverty since 1985; India's middle classes are projected to number around 580 million by 2030.
      Aurore, India - 2004 Ashden Award winner
                                  Aurore, India solar installation
Singh is lifting his people using the economic model of green sustainability. His government has initiated a National Plan For Climate Change(pdf). India being a tropical country; is well situated to make a major shift to sustainable solar. To do so, India invited NGO's from developed countries to peddle their solar wares and cooperated with the United Nations Environment Programme(UNEP),  to facilitate household financing for solar home systems.   Approximately 45 percent of people in India are hooked up to a power grid and endure daily power failures. Those without grid access must often walk long distances to buy a few liters of expensive kerosene, which can be scarce because much of it is traded on the black market as an illegal way to dilute fuel and diesel. “Kerosene used by the poor for lighting is often unaffordable, unavailable, unsafe, and unhealthy, while the electricity power grid is unreliable,” explained Timothy E. Wirth, president of the United Nations Foundation. Speaking about the new solar project, he noted that, “To provide even this little degree of electricity reliability and independence is to empower the poor in ways that can profoundly alter lives for the better.”

Many of the rural poor have had their lives transformed by the availability of local solar installations. For the rural poor who have had limited access to banks, Solar ATMs are literally putting money into the hands of banking customers and giving them more control over their own funds.

                                         Indian College teaches solar lessons to women

India has gotten to work. In scenes repeated throughout India the populace is being educated for a new solar future. And we have the stunning news that solar has reached parity despite the high cost of capital.  The Indians have also transitioned their street lighting to LED and are recognizing substantial savings both monetarily and in reduced carbon emissions

55 percent of India's population has leap-frogged the fossil fueled industrial revolution and is on the early cusp of the global green energy revolution. There are still many challenges including the US trying to throw a wrench into India's solar plans but I'm putting my money on India.

Originally posted to Climate Change SOS on Wed Apr 24, 2013 at 08:16 AM PDT.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots and Kosowatt.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Fantastic work! Both (5+ / 0-)

    in India and on your part, bb! Thank you! Maybe the U.S. could learn something ...

    There are moments when the body is as numinous as words, days that are the good flesh continuing. -- Robert Hass

    by srkp23 on Wed Apr 24, 2013 at 08:40:52 AM PDT

  •  solar water heating system (3+ / 0-)

    Most of the middleclass families in India are using solar water heating system for their need of hot water for daily domestic use. Solar pannels is a Very common site on their terraces.

  •  very inspiring (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    beach babe in fl

    leap-frogging the fossil fueled industrial revolution is going to be key for developing countries, and great to see India take the leap.

    Ecology is the new Economy

    by citisven on Wed Apr 24, 2013 at 12:07:24 PM PDT

  •  It's pretty obvious that you've never been to... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


    Solar energy is a failed and expensive pipe dream that is toxic and unaffordable in India and everywhere else.

    On the entire planet, after sucking down hundreds of billions of dollars, euros, yen, yuan and yes, Rupees, the entire industry doesn't produce on the entire planet, as much energy as five medium sized coal plants, even though solar, with it's poor capacity utilization even in India's climate does not make it an alternative to coal.

    One can nearly choke to death, near an Indian coal plant.   I've been there, done that.

    India certainly has a large portion of the 2 billion people who lack access to decent sanitation.   We are so oblivious to the nature of poverty in India and elsewhere that we tend to focus on meaningless bourgeois solutions that actually don't work - solar energy being just one - that we lie to ourselves about what is actually happening in places like Mumbai.   Anyone who has seen it, can never put it out of their minds, at least if one is not a psychopath.

    For the record, the atmosphere's collapse is now taking place at a record pace, 2013 is on track to be far, far, far, far, far worse than 2012, which was already worse than 2012, that being the worst since 1998.   Of the five worst years ever observed in history, all but 1998 occurred in the last 10 years.

    And what do we have?   The same kind of endless and mindless cheering for the 50 year failure of the solar industry, an industry that cannot even power the servers dedicated to declaring how wonderful it is.

    Far away from here, in a place called the scientific literature, scientists published an article claiming that solar energy has been a net energy consumer for almost all of its history:

    Environ. Sci. Technol., 2013, 47 (7), pp 3482–3489: Energy Balance of the Global Photovoltaic (PV) Industry - Is the PV Industry a Net Electricity Producer?

    The reason that the atmosphere is irreversibly destroyed, is because people insisting on hearing what they wanted to hear, with no respect to what they needed to hear.

    The world's largest, by far, the world's safest, and most sustainable source of climate change free primary energy - nuclear energy - has been largely destroyed by the chanting of the fearful and the ignorant.

    As the great atmospheric scientist, Jim Hansen noted recently - in the same scientific journal named above - nuclear energy has saved almost two million lives, this while people worked against it while cheering for the toxicological nightmare represented by the solar industry.

    Hansen: Prevented Mortality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Historical and Projected Nuclear Power

    However it is far too late for nuclear energy to save what it might have saved.   It's done.   We're cooked.   Fear and ignorance have won.

    Heckuva job anti-nukes.

    You must be very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very proud.

    Have a great day tomorrow.

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