From: Scott Sincoff, ENN
Published February 13, 2012 08:40 AM

Price of Solar Energy Decreasing in India

Solar energy may have a reputation to be more expensive in most parts of the world, but not in India. In the world's second most populous nation, electricity stemming from solar energy is now cheaper than oil-based energy. The Indian government also has an objective to inaugurate 20,000 megawatts of solar panels by 2022. India's solar success may have positive implications for other developing countries to show a new and inexpensive alternative energy source for use in not only for basic heating, but to also use for new and innovative technology.



According to the Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), prices of solar panels fell 50 percent in 2011, and are now one quarter of the price they were in 2008. The BNEF says that solar electricity now costs 8.78 rupees ($0.18) per kilowatt-hour, compared to 17 rupees ($0.34) per kilowatt-hour for oil-based electricity.

Solar energy also has gotten more support—in terms of monetary investment—over the past year. In 2011, solar energy investments increased in India from $4.2 billion, compared to $0.6 billion in 2010. Gaining more benefactors and becoming inexpensive is an incentive for developing countries to use solar panels to set up an alternative energy source for their electricity grids. However, there are some disadvantages to this plan because of the limited access of electricity to some developing countries.

The International Energy Agency's 2011 World Energy Outlook report states that a quarter of India's population does not have access to the country's electrical power grid. The report also states that those who do have access experience frequent blackouts and periods of time where their electricity does not connect to their homes and businesses. To manage the issue, many home and business owners purchase and install diesel-run electrical generators. The report says that this comes at both an environmental and financial cost. The burning of the fuel contributes carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. The fumes from the burning of the oil also have been reported to be linked to respiratory diseases and heart conditions in India.

Despite the drawbacks, the solar revolution in India will help many countries learn how to create their own energy in an inexpensive manner, said BNEF chief executive Michael Liebreich. Liebreich also said that India still has a large growth potential because it only accounts for four percent of global investment in clean energy.

"India's record performance in 2011, and the momentum it is carrying into 2012, is one of the bright spots in the clean energy firmament," said Liebrich. "With support mechanisms falling away in the US, the ongoing financial crisis in Europe and China already going flat out, it is gratifying to see some of the world's other major potential markets coming alive."

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