Nature and Biodiversity

A 'solar boom' is coming to India. Here's what that means

Workers clean photovoltaic panels inside a solar power plant in Gujarat, India, in this July 2, 2015 file photo. The likely collapse of SunEdison Inc's solar project in India, the first of 32 planned "ultra mega" complexes, could delay Prime Minister Narendra Modi's goal to increase renewable energy fivefold by several years and probably cost consumers more. REUTERS/Amit Dave/Files - RTSDX05

In November, India built the world's largest solar plant that can produce enough energy to power roughly 150,000 homes. Image: REUTERS/Amit Dave

Danielle Muoio
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India is betting big on renewable energy and solar companies are taking notice.

SunPower CEO Tom Werner said India is about to become the biggest market for solar energy, primarily because of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's interest in growing the sector.

"The market that’s going to boom is India," Werner told Business Insider. SunPower, the second biggest solar installer in the US, is owned by European oil giant Total.

Modi wants to spend 210 billion rupees ($3.1 billion) on state aid for India's solar panel manufacturing industry to increase India's photovoltaic capacity and create an export industry, according to Bloomberg. Called the Prayas initiative, short for Pradhan Mantri Yojana for Augmenting Solar Manufacturing, the plan has not yet been made public.

India's government plans to draw 40% of the country's energy from renewables by 2030. In India, where 300 million people aren't connected to the electrical grid, solar energy serves as an affordable way for Indians to produce their own power.

In November, India built the world's largest solar plant that can produce enough energy to power roughly 150,000 homes.

The Indian government's commitment to solar energy is why the country is likely to see the biggest growth in the near term, Werner said.

SunPower has already partnered with Mahindra EPC, a solar subsidiary owned by Indian conglomerate Mahindra Group, to build a 5-megawatt solar plant in Rajasthan, India. The plant generates enough electricity to power 60,000 rural homes.

Werner didn't disclose whether SunPower has any upcoming projects in India, but said the market will become increasingly more important in the future.

SunPower isn't the only company taking note — Tesla is also eyeing India and could enter the market as early as this summer, CEO Elon Musk tweeted earlier in February. Tesla acquired SolarCity in a deal worth $2.1 billion in November and is continuing to expand its battery division.

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Related topics:
Nature and BiodiversityGeographies in DepthEnergy Transition
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