Last week SunEdison, one of the largest installers and financers of solar power, announced a new project that will deliver solar power to 30 villages in India. It’s already equipped one of these villages with solar panels, a small distribution grid carrying electricity to more than 70 houses, and battery backup system to provide electricity around the clock.
The first village is a pilot project that’s not expected to be profitable, says Pashupathy Gopalan, SunEdison’s managing director for South Asian and sub-Saharan operations. But he expects that economies of scale and refinements to the design and installation process will bring costs down, and the company could be making money within the next couple of years. “By 2014, we want to be able to scale up to thousands of villages,” he says.