Minister for Science & Technology Expresses Confidence That India will Achieve its Goals for Solar Power Sector

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The Minister of Science & Technology and Earth Sciences Dr. Harsh Vardhan expressed confidence that the goal set by Shri Narendra Modi government for Solar Power generation in the coming years will be successfully achieved.   He was making a statement in the Parliament today on the historical landing of the world’s first Solar powered aircraft at 11.24 pm,  Last night at Ahmedabad. The aircraft began its global tour on Monday, the 9th March, 2015.  The Minister described it as a development in the world of science and technology which is of most profound importance for the future of not only India, its economy and society, but also the survival of the human civilization which is threatened by over-exploitation of nature and the climate change.

This aircraft, named Solar Impulse-2 (Si2), is capable of flying day and night solely on solar power. It is on a mission to spread information about the fantastic possibilities of life free of fossil fuels.  Its success will serve to convince all humanity that the Sun is the supreme source of energy with limitless powers.  It is also the major source of power which renews itself every day and forever, Dr. Harsh Vardhan added.

He congratulated the scientists, technicians, publicists and the pilots of Si2for their commitment and dedication to the vision of a cleaner and greener world.  He said the entire community of Indian scientists working on making the solar power cheaper and more efficient should be greatly enthused by landing of Si2 in our country.

The plane is made entirely of carbon fiber and has a wingspan of 226 feet.  But it weighs only 2.3 tonnes.  It is almost as big as an Airbus A380 which is currently the biggest aircraft powered by fossil fuels, but about 250 times lighter.  Si2 carries more than 17,000 photovoltaic cells rated at 66 kilowatts peak.  He called upon the Members of the Parliament to carry the message ingrained in the Si2 mission, that is to Recognize and celebrate Surya Shakti – the power of the sun.

The Minister said that the significance of Ahmedabad as choice of first landing in India should not be missed.  It is the capital of Gujarat, the state that has pioneered large scale harnessing and distribution of solar energy for everyday use.

In 2009, Gujarat became the first state in India and Asia to have established a Department of Climate Change to counter the threat to the planet posed by overuse of fossil fuels.  Shri Narendra Modi, who was then the Chief Minister, made the Gujarat Solar Park the largest hub of solar power generation in Asia, currently producing more than 1,000MW, the Minister added.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan said, now as Prime Minister, Shri Modi has set sights on India generating 100 Gegawatts of solar power by 2022.  He said the presence of Si2 in our midst today should make us believe that this is a possible target. The Minister said that aircraft manufacturing companies are bound to make solar-based planes within the next 10-15 years.

He also urged the people to ensure that coal, oil, wood and all traditional forms of energy, used for daily needs, are made a history.

He thanked the Government of Switzerland and the large number of R&D and business organizations both in Indian and in other countries that have made Si2 possible.  The aircraft and its crew are expected to take off for Varanasi on March 15th and after that it will fly to Myanmar and then to China.  Its biggest feat would be to cross the Pacific Ocean to the United States and then the Atlantic Ocean to Europe.

On behalf of the entire scientific community of India, the Parliament and the people of the country, he wished the project all success.



Press Information Bureau, March 11, 2015