Air pollution might cast a cloud over India’s solar power ambitions. Providing another reason for the Indian government to tackle the poor air quality, a new report found that pollutants can dampen solar power generation by as much as 17%. The problem is particularly bad in north India. Both dust and manmade sources contribute equally to the reduction in power generation. In some pockets of north-western India the depression in solar power generation can be as much as 50% of the installed power capacity. “Crop burning here is one of the main reasons for this,” Chinmay Ghoroi, one of the authors of the report, and a researcher at IIT Gandhinagar. Air pollution impacts solar generation because particulate matter and dust that is a form of pollutant prevent shortwave solar radiation required for energy production from reaching the panels. Though particulate matter produced from sources like vehicular pollution, industries and crop burning may make up only 8% of the pollutants, because they constitute partially burned carbon, tend to absorb solar energy.