Solar Power Super Power

Here is an item of interest that I got from Reuben’s weblog.

Bajaj Auto’s 3-wheeler utility vehicles are about to be released in the US.

Now that is precious, ain’t it?

A number of interesting lessons can be drawn from that. First, and foremost, that Indian innovation is not something that can be easily dismissed. Indian firms can come up with solutions that have wide applicability. Second, that of learning by doing and the importance of a large domestic market for creating comparative advantage. Third, the need to think and act locally and then move to act globally.

Bajaj is good at making autorickshaws because it has learnt how to make them by supplying to the domestic market. The “learning by doing for a large domestic market” is a very important point. India is a very large market since India accounts for around one-sixth of the world’s population. Practically every need of developing countries is represented in India itself, whether they be transportation, agriculture, or telecommunications. So we have a very large canvass to try out our ingenuity on and learn from doing that. Having developed solutions, we are well on our way to developing comparative advantage in those areas.

Is there any specific area that India should develop a comparative advantage in? There is. And that is in the area of alternative energy. More specifically, solar technology.

The case for India to invest in R&D for solar technology is so plain that I find it incredible that everyone and his brother is not shouting about it. Consider the following facts. First, India is conventional fuel poor. We do not have oil and have to import a good portion of our current needs. We cannot afford to rely on the whims of foreign oil producers. There is one 800-lb gorilla in the oil market and it has cornered significant sources of the global oil market. So for strategic reasons, India must reduce its dependence on foreign oil to meet its energy needs.

Second, rich nations have the resources to pay (one way or another) for the oil they consume, India cannot. For instance, the US pays for oil by directly paying the producers and indirectly by maintaining a huge military and using force strategically.

India is blessed (?) with a lot of solar energy delivered free. The sun shines too hard most of the time and very few people are making hay.

Finally, any desired technology can be developed if you throw sufficient money at it. That is a basic fact of the modern world. Everything that is theoretically possible can be developed given sufficient commitment in terms of time, effort and resources.

It is my considered opinion that energy is the most fundamental of all resources. If one can get free energy (or even cheap energy), there is no problem that cannot be solved. Energy is a substitute for land and labor. Don’t have enough land to grow food? No problem — use hydroponics and grow you food in factories. Don’t have water to do that? De-salinate sea water using energy. Don’t have enough labor? Use machines. Where do you get machines? Make them using energy.

“You have problems?”
“Yes. Lots of them.”
“You have money?”
“Yes, by the truckloads.”
“You have no problems.”

Substitute ‘energy’ for ‘money’ in the above and there you have.

OK, we were discussing the need for cheap or nearly free energy. Solar power is the answer. India needs solar power. It has a very large market for cheap solar power. India should invest in developing solar power. If India invests say $10 billion, the return on investment would be mumble billion $. First, India would save on energy imports. Then India would develop comparative advantage (and perhaps competitive advantage) in the field. Thus India would be able to sell that technology to other countries. There is a first mover advantage in being the leader in this field. Fortunately, the US and other developing countries are not taking the development of alternative energy sources very seriously. So the field is not crowded and India has a tremendous advantage.

My policy recommendation is simple. Set up a national goal to make India the Solar Power SuperPower (SPSP) in the next 10 years. (Pres Kalam, are you there?) To achieve that goal, spend Rs 500 billion (approximately $11 billion) to get an R&D started at space travel speed using the best brains that exist anywhere in the world. Hire the best scientists and pay them so much that they would not consider working on anything else. Create programs in all the Indian research institutes and reward people with sacks of gold or whatever floats their boats to get them to devote all their talents to that one aim of making solar energy technology in India so good that we don’t have to import a single drop of oil and can tell our Arab friends to take a hike. Indeed, once the demand for oil falls, they would have to take a hike because they would not be able to afford cars.

Can it be done? You bet. All it needs is national will. Do we have leaders enlightened enough to create the needed national will? I am afraid not.

Is anyone listening? Or as they all too busy congratulating themselves about how India is an IT Superpower and singing Mera Bharat Mahan?

Author: Atanu Dey


79 thoughts on “Solar Power Super Power”

  1. Hi , I want to commercialise solar airconditioning ( non Photo voltaic) . any idea who would fund such a venture with a capital of few million dollars .I am technocrat having managed operations of several large technology companies


  2. i want to set up a solar system in my house
    could guide me to set up and also a manufacturing unit i want to start up
    house area G+3(ground floor= 3 floors)


  3. I want a set up a solar system at my residential house for that I seek the cost of installation, the benfits and the space required to install the same.


  4. I want a set up a solar system at my residential house for that I seek the cost of installation, the benfits and the space required to install the same. I also need the contact address if you have a distributor at Mumbai


  5. Dear Sir,

    We are going to procuce solar photvoltaic panel (module), we would like to know the subsidy/incentives are in the budget 2007/2008,taxation on production of pv panel(import duty, cvd (on import of r.m.),excise duty(production duty), cst/vat etc. incentives on manufacuring as well as for export the panel. we hv surf the non conventional ministry website and make a call but still we hv not recd any satisfactory reply. the fiscal incentives and financial incentives on the website are of 2000/2001. and ministry employees are not properly replied.

    kindly cooperate and reply.


  6. we are going to produce solar photovoltaic panel in sez unit, we are looking for 1)taxation like import duty, cvd, other duties (on import of R.M., Capital equipment),Excise duty, cst/vat, octroi of various state 2)incentive/subsidy for our production 3)incentives on panel export 4)laon at concessional rate. we hv surfed ministry of non conve energy website, but the datas are of 2000/01. pl reply


  7. Hi,

    I have seen a lot of comments here from people on various topics like ” looking for a solar company”, “need a Solar solution”, “Need help on setting up a Solar manufacturing company”, etc……….but friends please mention your contact details….how would some on get in touch with you.

    Or FRIENDS, for any type of doubt / assistance / support / solution / system do not hesitate to get in touch with me. My contact details are as follows:

    Mr. Vikram Shetty
    International Green Energy Expert
    & Vice President, Triace Solar Solutions
    Wireless: +91-9892838403
    E-mail: OR


  8. Dear all – Nice to know of interest of so many ppl in solar power. We ought to do something for promoting awareness and liasing with the government on such an environmentally relevant cause in todays times. And a genuine energy issue which India faces. Would be keen to work with ppl interested on the same as well as promoting awareness in their own self help groups. Have mentioned my email id above. Am based out of Faridabad. Also, interested in installing equipment and evaluating commercial feasibility. Cheers.Puneet


  9. hello,
    I wish to install solar photo voltaic cell or solar panel.
    I am leaving in one of the building in Mumbai. I wish to know whether it is possible to set up the solar system for generation of electricity on 4th floor. i have got place of around 13ft by 4ft.
    Can you pls suggest me with the best option with best quotation.

    thank you.


  10. Hi guys,
    I am very much intrested in partnering with a like minded business person in solar panel,heating and lighting business opportunities.Persons having the knowhow and willing to have a partnership or franchise association please contact me at


  11. There is a great scope for Solar energy in India. We have done more than 125KW in last few months itself. We can offer all components required for Solar installations. Components like Solar Panels , Charge controllers, Structures, Inverters etc. The basic requirement is shadow free space facing south @110 Sqft per KW. One KW system produces 4 to 6 units of electricity per day depending on sunshine. The cost per KW is upwards of 2.6 Lakh RS depending on system configuration. For further details you may contact me on


  12. I am interested in establishing a solar pannel plant for lighting and heating of water. Please, can we communicate to see how the process can be faciliated.

    Thanks alot in advance


  13. Hi, I am interested in knowing the details about Solar panels for generating electricity for domestic use in new and old Apartment bldgs, installation, initial costs, selling excess electricity generated, etc. I am also interested to take dealership for solar panels, equipments etc. for India and in the Middle East.


  14. Hello Sir,

    I am from a magzine The Franchsing World and i am realy impressed with ur write up, can you please provied me with the overall sceanario of Franchising and Retailing in South India. Please contact me as early as possible.Thanks & Regards,

    Rajshekhar Chakroborty
    +959910948974, +959990614313, (D) 011-65663636
    D-14 Pamposh Enclave, GK-I, New Delhi

    E-mail: and


  15. I want a set up a solar system at my residential house for that I seek the cost of installation, the benfits and the space required to install the same. I also need the contact address if you have a distributor at Mumbai


  16. The comments and the write up are quite educative. i am interested in linking up with a company that can generate 100MW of solar energy for a large community. The investment will be done by the company, land will be provided and a large sum of money will be paid by the community over a period of years until the company make the investment back in terms of money and gain


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