I am starting this thread on Renewable Energy for India. There are pros and cons for topic.
To start of I am pro-Renewable Energy for India. This is major strategic initiative to kick the habit from Coal/Oil based products. Coal and Oil based products are major polluters contributing to tonnes of CO2 emission per year. India is currently producing around 70% of its energy from Coal based plants.
The current initiatives in renewable energy are a) Wind b) Jatropha biodiesel c) Solar Energy d) Ocean Tidal wave energy.
Wind is a well established technology and depends on the wind map of the country. The current estimates for Wind are around 60,000 MW on land. Offshore there is more potential.
Solar Energy is promising since India gets a lot of sunshine throughout the year. Some experts estimate that the Solar Energy Shone on India is sufficient to power its energy needs. The major stumbling blocks are solar to electric conversion are costly (though recent advances in California put it a grid parity cost, i.e. cost have come down to the same level as other conventional energy on a per unit basis).
One promising use for solar is home water heaters. This is not very expensive and people with independent homes can avail of this technology today. Lots of home have solar water heaters on their rooftops, the sun heating small tubes of water in a glass planel and hot water collected in an insulated tank. For those days that do not have sunlight an in-line heater element heats up water. So on balance, for a majority of the time people can enjoy hot water. Commercial establishments like laundries and hotels can make use of solar water heaters.
Coming to the issue of electricity from Solar there are various other alternatives that produce electricity. One instance in Seville, Spain uses reflecting mirrors to heat a liquid that runs an engine to produce electricity. This technology is being pursued by PG&E in Southern California for a 500 MW + plant. I believe that the best way to mitigate energy use is to have individual homes with Solar energy. During day time they can produce electricity returned to the grid and during night they take back from the grid. The savings could be substantial and conventional systems can augment deficit power.
India is also looking to increase its Nuclear Energy program.
Here is con argument from dis.agree
you cannot just shutdown & bring up coal based plants on a daily basis. they run for long durations and provide base load power. i am surprised you say that india has highest potential to reap solar energy. i am yet to see any decent paper on this.
while operational cost of solar power is near zero, it is highly capital intensive. there is still some distance to go from technology perspective. thin films is the most promising technology. it's efficiency is low but it compensates through lower capital needs. but even that on a levelized cost perpective is about 3-10 times expensive in western countries (at locations with good insolation levels). this however depends on discount rates used. you will not find indian banks lending at such low 5% interest rates. best you could hope for now is 10%. solar technology is still unproven & i doubt any serious bank would lend at all. you need equity but indian investors expect a much higher roi and so large scale solar projects would be financially unviable in india.
your view that oil imports benefit sheiks, while mainstream, is not free market thinking. they export oil and import other stuff. it is just a globalized economy. and that way we can argue against solar & wind energy as well. we are dependent capital intensive technology that are more expensive than fossils: usa for solar & europe for wind.
we definitely need to move away from coal, oil & gas. i am not saying this because of global warming of which i have reasons to be skeptical, but because oil production has started to decline for a few years now. gas too would follow very soon and coal possibly in next 2 decades. so, we must look at alternatives - nuclear & wind is the best short term option and in medium-long term solar.
indian government does not have that kind of money to subsidize such renewable energy. in any case, best way to get this done is to leave the markets to function freely. if state electricity boards allow/simplify sale of such power produced by independent producers directly to consumers and allow them to enter into long term contracts, i am sure we would soon see more such renewable energy generation.