It should come as no surprise that India, a nation of over a billion people with one of the most advanced high technology sectors on earth, would be jumping big-time into the photovoltaic game. After all, photovoltaic energy, right now, is probably the most viable clean renewable energy technology candidate in the world to replace conventional energy sources.
In the coming electric age, where our cars run on electricity, and electricity provides power for abundant fresh water via desalinization – where electricity powers the pumps that move water north from the Ubangi River to refill Lake Chad, or south from the Ob-Irtysh River to refill the Aral Sea, photovoltaics may well become the skin of every rooftop in the world.
Just last Monday, March 5th, one of the largest companies in India, Moser Baer, announced a partnership with one of the blue chip giants of California’s Silicon Valley, Applied Materials, to build the “world’s largest thin film fab.” The only thing we take issue with is the claim that it will be the largest – who is to say how long that claim will hold, when everywhere these days, from South Africa to Silicon Valley to Europe to China, thin film technologies of various vintages are sprouting, unstoppable, like the new grasses of spring.
To read more about the details of this partnership, refer to the recent press release from Moser Baer. As India’s Union Minister for Science & technology Mr. Kapil Sibal said, “Providing affordable renewable sources of energy is paramount in this century. In a high energy demand country like India with abundant sunlight, affordable photovoltaic generation will be key to sustaining our growth.”
You can say that again. For India to attain a per capita standard of living equivalent to that of the fully industrialized nations of Europe, even with twice the energy intensity of the Europeans today (“energy intensity” refers to units of energy per unit of GNP, and ongoing improvements in energy efficiency ought to allow India to achieve this goal of 2x what Europeans have achieved to-date), India will need to quadruple their energy production.
Quadrupling India’s energy production will only occur with technologies such as thin film photovoltaics, which require minimal raw material input, and where the primary variable cost to manufacture is only one thing – you guessed it – electricity, which they will themselves produce.