To Forecast the Future—First Understand the Past

In 2010, the Indian government launched an initiative called the National Solar Mission. The purpose of the mission was simple—establish India as a global leader in solar energy.

At that time, India had an installed solar capacity of around 10 megawatts. To put this in perspective, the total installed capacity of all energy sources in India—coal, thermal, hydro, and everything else—was around 160 gigawatts. Solar constituted 0.006%.

Recognizing India’s solar potential, the National Solar Mission set the following goal, which would have marked a 2000x increase in just 12 years.


Then in 2015, the Modi government raised these targets from 20 GWs to 100 GWs! Aiming to attract $100 billion into the sector in a seven year span.

In June 2015, a fairly sizable chunk of this goal was met, when Japan’s SoftBank announced plans to invest $20 billion to set up 20 gigawatts of solar power. Listen to my recent interview with the Head of SoftBank India, Manoj Kohli, to get insight behind that decision.*

Ultimately India hit 20 gigawatts of solar in 2018—four full years ahead of the initial schedule!

Mr. Ashish Khanna, the President of Tata Power, compared the growth of India’s solar industry over this past decade to that of the IT industry. Per our conversation -

“I believe this is the next IT for this country…and why I say that is… when I look at the top 10 companies today in the renewable industry in this country, when I look at them, seven of the top ten have only emerged in this decade. They were absolutely nonexistent a decade back. And this is an amazing observation which only happens in IT, if you look at similarities out there. Some of them have more renewable as a portfolio than others who have been in the industry for five decades or 10 decades. And they have even more assets with them than those companies, fossil fuel as well as renewable assets put together. This is what they have achieved in such a short time. It is very similar to when you look at the IT industry on how so many companies in the last one or two decades have outgrown so many who were there for ages. And I think that is the cusp where we are in.”

Last week’s post showed why India’s future demand for electricity is going to be tremendous –

“India will account for 25% of the global energy demand growth from 2019-40”

“Electricity will account for 49% of India’s total energy consumption by 2050 (up from 19% today)”

This post illustrates Solar’s record growth in India over the past decade.

Future posts will examine the enabling factors that have facilitated this growth and how solar can continue to meet India’s growing demand.

Stay tuned!


*All figures were taken from the Central Electricity Authority website

*Listen to my interviews here:

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