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Friday, August 10, 2012

India's Blackout Lesson: Coal Failed, Small Solar = Big Results

From a story by Justin Guay, Sierra Club International Program:

Of course they still have to face the problems they have inherited from trying to copy/paste a centralized grid from the West. So what can they do to solve peak problems with the grid they already have in place? Deploy lots and lots of distributed solar and efficiency.

That's because, unlike coal, solar for the most part is available when you need it - during peak hours. Which is why it's great to see States like Gujarat taking the lead in roof top solar programs with the support of the IFC. And efficiency makes the peaks smaller so you need less power in the first place.

The irony here of course is that distributed generation has always been ignored as trivial compared to the real need for a large scale 'modern grid.' That’s because policymakers and commentators lack the imagination to understand the fact that when aggregated, small can be very, very big.

Take the hidden truth behind India's modern grid (as my colleague Jigar Shah points out): it is actually already a distributed system that is largely powered by filthy, costly diesel gen sets. That’s because power outages are so frequent that businesses and wealthy individuals have been forced to pay for this backup generation to ensure power. This is a tremendous opportunity for companies seeking targeted diesel replacement strategies to save people and companies tremendous amounts of money, while providing reliable power.

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