Who Will Be the Next Renewables Superpower?
Indian energy minister says India will deserve this title.
Alike many other countries, India has set its own renewable energy targets for 2020 under the name National Solar Mission. The goal is to generate 15% of its power with clean energy by 2020. Furthermore, the country has set the ambitious goal of providing 24/7 power supply to its citizens in the next five years.
During the 2014 Economist India Summit, India’s power and coal minister Piyush Goyal said that although the coal industry is expected to expand, a $100 billion dollar investment will be granted for the renewable energy sector in the next five years. He referred to India as a “renewables superpower” despite the expected expansion of the coal sector.
We will be a renewables superpower: ‘speed, skill and scale’”, said Goyal.
Piyush also said that the government expects an investment between $50-60 billion dollars in power transmission and distribution in the next four years.
The minister said that they will try to provide electricity to the 300 million indians that currently have no access to electricity. Achieving this objective by using fossil fuels will have a harmful impact on the environment, so the government is deciding how to proceed to have the least harmful impact but at the same time, fast results.
The debate: India versus Western economies
The minister compared India versus western economies and their respective environmental damage. He confidently affirmed that in terms of overall development versus damage, India will show better results than western economies. The minister said that comparing total emissions per country makes no sense and argued that the number should be taken per capita. In these terms, he supported, India is not one of the largest polluters.
Furthermore, India has high hopes on solar power. One indicator of solar energy development in this country is Gujarat Solar Park, a group of solar parks in Gujarat. It is the largest solar park in Asia and is expected to save approximately 8 million tonnes of C02 from being released into the atmosphere (per year).
Although Goyal has doubled the tax on coal to provide funding for green energy, and has also implemented incentives to shut down inefficient coal plants older than 25 years, coal-fired electricity is expected to grow fast. Despite being harmful to the environment, fuels are faster to bring electricity to poor people and this is necessary for development. There are many debates regarding this issue and it is still not clear how the government will proceed.