From coal to solar: How India’s energy transition is caught in a fog

Solar power plants farm farmers
All the power generated by solar plants around afternoon is consumed immediately whereas the peak demand is for 5pm-7 pm | Image - Eunice Dhivya

A highway leading to Pavadaga—one of the most backward taluks in Karnataka—cuts through swaths of barren land where grass has turned brown on fields that were once fertile. A little away, thousands of blue-grey solar panels glimmer in the sun, as the temperature soars to 35 degrees Celsius in mid-February.

These are not decentralised rooftop panels but expansive solar parks set up by the Karnataka government, that is being fuelled by India’s need to pace renewable energy (RE) production to meet 40 per cent of the country’s 2030 power requirements and reduce its dependence on coal and fossil fuels.

For farmers who once cultivated vegetables in the rainfed region and became debt-ridden due to recurring droughts and crop losses, the Pavagada solar park is a saviour. Many leased out their land for the solar park just to earn a living.

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