India is relying on solar energy to break from its polluted past.
When the World Health Organization released its 2016 list of the world’s most polluted cities, four of the top seven (and 22 of the top 50) were in India. It was not all that surprising, but India is now striving for a much cleaner future by turning to solar power.
In 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the government’s goal of upping India’s solar energy capacity from the previous target of 20 gigawatts (GW) to 100GW by 2022. Since 2014, the country has already made strides by more than doubling its solar energy capacity and increasing its renewable capacity target to 175GW with the help of other renewable sources, according to The Economic Times.
While there are still major challenges ahead for India, including dealing with an outdated power grid, the dropping cost of solar power production will surely help the country pivot away from energy sources like coal, which contribute to air pollution. According to the Bloomberg New Energy Outlook 2016, solar and wind will become the cheapest ways of producing electricity in many countries during the 2020s and in most of the world by the 2030s. The report also estimates that the cost of solar photovoltaic cells will fall 60 percent globally by 2040, accounting for 29 percent of India’s new power capacity.
In June, the nation’s efforts received a buoy of more than $1 billion from the World Bank Group. “India’s plans to virtually triple the share of renewable energy by 2030 will both transform the country’s energy supply and have far-reaching global implications in the fight against climate change,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said in a release.