India Turns To Solar To Get Power Into Every Home By End Of 2018

Homes outside the standard electrical grid will be set up with solar power panels and battery packs, introducing households that have never had electricity to a clean, renewable energy source.


May 25 2019, Updated 5:45 a.m. ET

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was elected in part due to his promises to connect the many regions outside of India's electrical grid to power, according to Bloomberg. Electricity is an important issue in the country, which has a population of 1.3 billion, of which more than 300 million are without consistent power. For perspective, that's 40 million households. On Monday, Modi announced that the government would be spending $2.5 billion on making good on those promises, with a goal to connect all these households by December of 2018.

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Sandeep Shastri, a political analyst and a pro vice chancellor at Jain University in Bengaluru, told Bloomberg that the news is likely politically motivated, saying, "Power for all is a very ambitious plan and the prime minister knows the political gains it can bring if he can pull it off. So, when he announces schemes to connect all households, beyond a shadow of doubt he has the 2019 elections in mind."

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Whatever the motivation, without this support from the highest level of government, the slow shift to powering all households would continue to move at a glacial pace. The initiative will also create jobs for India, and will attempt to lower the use of kerosene in households, which can be a hazard for families. 

When announcing the launch of these programs, Modi stated, "No fee will be charged for electricity connection in households of poor citizens.” However, the government has not promised to subsidize the cost of electricity for citizens; just to cover the price of admission, essentially. 

Though some states will be working to connect homes to electrical grids nearby, many villages are so rural that such a connection is impossible. Reuters reports that those areas will be given solar power packs with a battery bank distributed by the government, which means the expansion of clean renewable power. There is considerable work to do to fulfill Modi's ambitious plan, but a successful implementation will not only benefit his political prospects—it'll benefit all of India and potentially the entire planet.

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