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Power crisis: Indian policy makers 'failing' to repose faith in roof-top solar systems

By Shankar Sharma* 

A numerous reports /studies/ articles on the true relevance of roof-top solar PV systems or SPVs are appearing in the international media (click here, here and here). There is an ever increasing techno-economic confidence level that the roof-top SPVs can meet most, if not all, of the electricity needs of the entire world. It is certainly so in the case of our country, where the per capita consumption/need of our households is very low.
The same should be true for all the developing countries. If the associated policies/ tariffs are innovatively implemented along with the other three enabling policy measures viz high efficiency, demand side management and energy conservation, the roof-top SPVs can meet can also reduce the demand on other energy needs such as transportation, heating and cooling, public lighting, small size motive power, agricultural pump sets and dryers, etc. 
 In summary, it will not be an exaggeration to state that the roof-top SPVs can meet more than 50% of the total energy needs of the world. But it is sad that our policy makers seem to be unaware of this enormous potential, and are favoring large size land based solar power parks at unacceptable costs to the society.
Without diligently considering various associated costs/risks/opposition to coal power reliance, the Union government is also refusing to take a rational approach to its energy demand/supply scenario for the future, and is continuing to commit our country for the next four more decades of humongous costs of coal power reliance; against all sane advises.
The chaotic policy regime in the energy sector should be evident in the recent direction of the Union government for coal power plants to go for 10% imported coal, whereas only a few months ago the same government had indicated its goal to stop importing coal.
One one hand it is being claimed that there is no shortage of coal in the country from domestic sources, but on the other hand there is a mandate for the import of coal. All these while growing concerns are being reported from across the country on coal shortage and looming power supply crises.
Our leaders have no inclination to consider various costs to our society because of over reliance on coal power
Where is the rationale for continuing with our over-reliance on coal power supply; least at a time when there are global calls for moving from all kinds of fossil fuel sources; and to move completely away from coal power?
If our leaders have no inclination to consider various costs to our society because of the over reliance on coal power from economic and environmental perspectives, they must consider at least the health issue for our communities. The 10 recommendations in the COP26 Special Report on Climate Change and Health include a set of priority actions from the global health community to governments and policy makers, calling on them to act with urgency on the current climate and health crises.
Will some one in the Union government muster enough courage to raise the associated health issues of coal power sector for their own families, children and grand children, if not for the whole country; because the associated issues will impact everyone?
A recent "Guardian" article has screamed: ‘Green growth’ doesn’t exist – less of everything is the only way to avert catastrophe'. There can be no option for the global community other than to minimise the total demand for all kinds of materials and energy in order to avert climate catastrophe.
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*Power and climate policy analyst, Vijayanagar 1st stage, Sagara, Karnataka

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