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Solar energy Lighting up a billion lives

The recently released Global Status Report on Renewables 2007 says that grid-connected solar photovoltaics (PV) has been the fastest growing energy technology in the world with 50 per cent annual growth in cumulative installed capacity in 2006 as well as in 2007. The majority of the above capacity comes from about 1.5 million homes across Germany, Japan, Spain, and the US which have installed small PV systems (a few kilowatts to tens of kilowatts) on their rooftops, feeding the electricity into the grid through two way meters and enjoying the benefits of net metered electricity bills at the end of the month. Technologies such as Building Integrated PV (BIPV), where PV panels double up as electricity generators as well as building facades, tiles and. walls by replacing the building material with aesthetically designed PV panels, have begun to get noticed by the architects and builders. This market is virtually non-existent in India which otherwise has had a good track record of utilising solar PV technology for off-grid applications ranging from power for off-shore oil and gas platforms to lighting up remote rural homes with solar home systems. Of the total reported 25 lakh homes worldwide that use solar home systems today, about 3.6 lakhs are in India, second only to China which has 4 lakh solar home system users. In fact, India's early commitment to promote solar PV arose from its concerns about energy access and energy security for all these cardinal principles form the backbone of Integrated Energy Policy almost three decades later.

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