Solar Power Lies Beyond National Solar Mission

The importance of solar energy goes beyond sustainability and energy security, argues urban planner and architect Ashok Bhalotra. ‘In the context of international power relations, it is very important not to be dependent of other countries for energy supply – now and in the far future.’

As ambassador of urban design office KuiperCompagnons, Bhalotra has recently worked on the redevelopment of Mekka, a project in which solar energy is widely used despite the high amounts of oil available here.

Famous for his involvement in the development of the Dutch ‘Sun City’, the world’s first carbon-neutral neighbourhood, Bhalotra is currently heading a consortium of companies designing the Masterplan of a complete new city in Rajasthan. Solar power models used in the ‘Sun City’ can be replicated here, he believes.

Ashok Bhalotra will share his expertise and vision at the conference The Solar Future India II, which will be held in Jaipur at 29 February. Other high level internationally renowned speakers include Ravindra Raina, President of India operations for Astonfield, currently spearheading the renewable energy programme; Ravi Khanna, CEO of the Solar Power Business of the Aditya Birla Group; Jigar Shah – CEO, Carbon War Room; and Vishal Shah – Managing Director & Senior Analyst Alternative Energy, Deutsche Bank; amongst others.

The event is organized by Solarplaza, an information platform for international solar energy stakeholders that organizes conferences worldwide. All speakers have in common that their wide and global experience allows them to look beyond the goals and potential of the current National Solar Mission.

‘Look at how much wind energy has progressed in recent years’, Ravi Khanna says. ‘Solar (photovoltaic and concentrating solar thermal power) has much more potential.’

Ravindra Raina argues that the government has a very important role in reaching what he calls the ‘critical mass’ of a 10 GW capacity. ‘But after that, market forces will take over’, Raina says, adding that he expects that the 10GW capacity to be reached in India within five years.’

Bhalotra, too, while acknowledging the importance of government support, sees a positive role of Indian citizens in the growth of the solar energy. ‘For a growing number of middle class citizens, getting richer is no longer enough. I have already seen the consciousness grow a lot in the past year.’