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India’s Low Solar Spend

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Government spending on solar energy can be tricky as the Barack Obama administration realized recently. It has been under fire for subsidizing Solyndra, a solar call manufacturing company based out of Fremont, California. The company was hailed for its technology but got hit by plummeting silicon prices, mostly out of China. On September 1, 2011, Solyndra ceased business and filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The US Department of Energy has given $535 million federal loan guarantee in 2009.  
The money was used to set up a $733 million robotic facility in Fremont. Low cost production from China is seen as one reason.  India has always has a solar energy plan and government subsidies for it. The issue of how much subsidy is a question in many parts of the world. But despite the controversy over Solyndra, many argue that subsidies are still needed to push investments and production in this important sector.India’s own spend on solar energy programmes was Rs 714 crore ($158 mn) but for three years from 2008 to 2011 according data tabled by the Government. The figures also show that in this period, 237,872 solar home lights and 177,537 solar lanterns were installed. In addition, electrification of 3,400 remote villages and hamlets were completed. India has followed a somewhat different path in as much as some part of the funds gets distributed directly to fund solar-powered utilities at home as opposed to generating stations.

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