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India must tackle clean energy, transport, buildings

18 March 2011
India must tackle clean energy, transport, buildings

NEW DELHI: On Thursday March 17, 2011, The Climate Group hosted a high-profile event in New Delhi, India to launch a new report titled India’s Clean Revolution.  

Mark Kenber, CEO, The Climate Group, opened the ceremony by stating his genuine belief that the world is on the cusp of a Clean Revolution.  Introducing the report, which gives success stories of companies, cities, states and the national government in India who are demonstrating necessary changes for long-term sustainability and growth, he said, “Having spent an hour in the company of many of the guests here this evening, the case studies that we mention just scratch the surface of what’s really going on.”

“There is more happening here in India than you could possibly imagine; in terms of demand side management, in terms of solar, in terms of wind, in terms of biomass, in terms of energy efficiency, across all sectors of the society.”

He recognized that Indian businesses are responding to the twin drivers of a national priority on energy independence and also the booming new market for clean energy and clean technology.

“Indian companies, like their counterparts in China, in Europe, the US and the rest of the world are recognizing that this is a market that’s here to stay, that’s growing probably quicker than any other market, and is going to be the basis for economic development for the rest of this century.”

In his keynote to formally launch the publication, Shri Suresh Prabhu, Former Indian Minister of Energy and Environment, said, “Now is the time, when India is spending almost half of its export earnings on importing fuel from abroad, to ask how do you actually make sure that India becomes energy self-sufficient, energy independent and energy secure?  For that we really need a different type of thinking.”

He went on to talk about the sectors that India should tackle aggressively as part of its Clean Revolution – energy, transport and buildings - as well as the hidden benefits of India's lacking infrastructure, 85% of which is yet to be constructed.

“We can work on that in a way that India really becomes a new powerhouse.  For that to happen, and to reap the full benefits of that, then we need the type of collaboration that is happening here.”

A panel discussion of distinguished guests followed.

Shri Deepak Gupta, Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, spoke on the future of India’s electricity mix.  He said. “I think in the short term we cannot depend too much on renewable energy.  Since 2002 renewables were roughly 3% of the total capacity, today they are 11%.  In the last three to four years, growth has been about 25% of the capacity, not counting large hydro.  But in spite of this huge growth, even a few years from now I think they’ll be at best 15% of capacity, which will be about 6% of the electricity mix.”  

He went on to say that in the longer term “we are targeting for example for solar to reach grid parity by 2022, and if that happens then the sky is the limit.”

Continuing to talk about renewable energy in India, Chintan Shah, Vice President & Head, Strategic Business Development, Suzlon, said that the public policy framework to support renewable energy was already in place in the form of the India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change

He said, “We have been collaborating as industry with the central government, as well as state government, to make this happen and we’ll see that by 2050 we’ll achieve the targets as specified by the vision document of the Government of India.”

Dr Kirit Parikh, Chairman, Expert Group for Low Carbon Strategy for Inclusive Growth, Planning Commission of India, spoke of India’s critical need for a long term focus on developing its solar resources.  “If solar becomes cost comparative to coal by 2022, and I believe that it will become so, then I think we will see a huge expansion of solar.  This will require many things to be done, but I think we can do that.”

Focusing on transportation, Sunand Sharma, Country President, Alstom India, looks at the reasons for India’s inadequate rail construction, “A) [rail is] a huge investment to be made and b) there is a huge amount of policy shift which needs to take place. But it can be done … [and] in a hugely competitive world and a hugely demanding world we have to be future ready so we make huge investments in R&D. ”

Uday Khemka, Vice Chariman of Sun Group, went on to talk about the economics of a Clean Revolution and the role of policy. “This is about capitalism going from 1 billion people to 4 billion people and creating fundamental resource constraints. And that will create pricing pressures that reflect across the entire world economy … [and] open up a market opportunity that is not linked to policy.”

“I think the role of policy is to mid-wife the period between now, and when these fundamental micro-economic changes are going to happen anyway.  And the job of business people is to be patient enough to follow that to a golden economic future.”

Read the India's Clean Revolution report

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