Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has described solar energy as the “ultimate solution” to India’s energy problems and called on domestic scientists to work on developing more efficient solar equipment.

Addressing 30 scientists from institutions across India, Modi highlighted the country’s emerging critical issues of water and energy. He asked the domestic scientific community to research and develop concepts for global leadership in this technology ahead of the upcoming COP21 UN climate conference in Paris.

However, he added that Indian science is currently constrained by a “silo approach”, which should be ended by encouraging greater coordination and establishing a multi-disciplinary environment for research.

He said that developing more efficient equipment for the solar industry could revolutionise the sector.

Modi has put solar energy high on the agenda since coming to power last year by approving the increase of the national solar target from 22GW to 100GW by 2022. Alongside power minister Piyush Goyal, he has also pledged to give all Indians access to electricity, which would involve a significant increase in coal-fired power capacity. Nevertheless, a recent Deutsche Bank report forecast that investment in solar energy in India could surpass investment in coal by as early as 2019.

Modi has also been encouraging domestic production since coming to power through his ‘Make in India’ campaign. However, various reports have warned that strong interest from foreign PV manufacturers to enter the Indian market could hamper domestic manufacturers, who may be unable to compete.

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