India's Blackout Could Slow Green Energy Progress

The government looks for a quick fix after the blackouts
Photograph by Ajit Solanki/AP Photo

If there’s any country where solar power should be an easy sell, it’s India. Two-thirds of the country’s power supply comes from fossil fuels, and power producers can’t get enough coal to fire their plants or enough pipeline space to distribute natural gas. In late July, blackouts over two days left much of northern India in the dark, at one point cutting power to more than 640 million people. Even at the best of times the network fails to serve much of India. The July blackouts lasted “only for a couple of days but 400 million Indians have never had electricity,” says H Harish Hande, managing director of Selco Solar, a Bangalore-based company that focuses on expanding solar power use among the rural poor.

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