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#CleanEnergy: Make in India but Make it Green.

 

Whilst their ‘bromance’ may have hogged the headlines, beyond the front pages, the recent talks between Barack Obama and Narendra Modi were underpinned by the issue of climate change.

President Obama urged India – the world’s third-biggest carbon polluter – to overlook the perceived double standard of First World countries placing the burden of climate change on developing nations such as India and focus on embracing clean energy.

Part of Prime Minister Modi’s  appeal stems from his support for renewable energy and renewables should be at the heart of his much-hyped ‘Make In India’ campaign, one which, to some extent, aims to reinvigorate India’s stagnant economy by mimicking the West’s’ Industrial Revolution which had made countries such as the US and Britain the first carbon polluters more than two hundred years ago.

Unlike in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries aims, Climate Change is no longer irrelevant.

Renewable energy and sustainability must be at the heart of the Make in India project.

To that end, India needs foreign expertise as well as the help of its vast, wealthy, influential and learned Diaspora.

“When we think about future generations and what kind of world we are going to give them, there is an immense pressure.  Global warming is a huge pressure”, Mr Modi declared at his joint news conference with President Obama.

His words are the clearest indication yet that India is ready to work with the United States on a climate deal at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris this December.

If successful, the deal will be the first involving all nations of the world – rich and poor – to restrain carbon emissions.

The White House has already declared its support for India on clean energy matters, including the highly successful US-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy (PACE) program which assists India introduce clean and affordable technologies that increase energy efficiency and promote clean energy.

India is taking that help and moving in the right direction.

As highly polluting coal remains the first choice in electricity generation in India, the country is attempting to offset that pollution by enhancing  the overall share of renewable energy in keeping with its intended goal to increase India’s solar energy capacity to 100 GW by 2022.

However, Mr Modi says India needs $200 billion – half of it from foreign companies – to meet its immediate renewable energy targets.

“Unless India’s renewable energy, particularly its nuclear energy capabilities are developed it is difficult to imagine how India can reduce its coal consumption.

“In the interim, use of gas, energy efficiency and clean coal are the ways to reduce energy intensity”, explains Rajendra Shende, former director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and founder of the Terre Policy Centre, an environmental NGO.

According to Mr Shende, what India needs most urgently is partnerships on technology development in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

“The role of the Indian Diaspora in moving forward with sustainable development by using renewable energy will again be crucial”, Mr Shende says.

“Venture capitalists like Vinod Khosla and Kanwar Rekhi could promote manufacture of efficient solar cells and storage technology; software honchos like Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Hotmail co-founder Sabeer Bhatia could develop the energy-internet and finance experts like Vikram Pandit could provide a financial road map”, Mr Shende adds.

Some Indian contractors and experts have already begun the process of advancing clean energy initiatives.  Most notable among them is Geetanjali Patil Choori, CEO or US-based clean energy advisory Energy Guru.

Choori has emerged as one of India’s leading promoters of solar energy, assisting solar power companies as well as commercial and industrial consumers across India.

The likes of Choori, Nadella and Khosla have blazed trails in their adopted homelands, as have others across the developed world.

It’s vital now for them to leverage their experience and expertise to help India’s journey ahead.

{module Marjorie Cessac – Author}

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