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India pledges 24-hour electricity to all by 2019

The Indian government estimates that it will need to spend around $250bn over the next five years in order to connect the entire nation to the grid.

The country’s energy minister, Piyush Goyal, said $100bn of the new investment would be in renewables and $50bn in transmission, with the rest in other areas.

“We can see a situation where we will have power for all businesses, all homes, all offices right through the length and breadth of India,” Mr Goyal said.
Piyush Goyal
The minister re-affirmed that output would be increased through improving the overall power mix. This includes greater use of renewables such as wind and solar, and a doubling of state-run Coal India’s mine output to 1 billion tonnes a year in the next five years to provide fuel for big new coal-fired power plants starved of coal.

India currently has 2.9 GW of solar electricity capacity and the government is ambitiously targeting a raise in that to 20 GW by 2022, with a new solar target of 100 GW within the next eight years.

The FT reports that the government is however reluctant to invest to the same extent in nuclear power, without further analysis.

Yet India’s existing long-term energy strategy also calls for adding up to 26 GW of nuclear power to help meet its electricity deficit, and companies from around the world, including Areva and Rosatom, as well as Japanese engineering giants are all hoping for a share.

As it stands 53 million homes on the subcontinent are without power, with much reliance on diesel generators to produce electricity during lengthy power cuts. In the summer of 2012, the grid in northern India collapsed, leaving hundreds of millions of Indians without electricity for up to three days in the worst outage in history.