Government providing unprecedented thrust on renewables, says power minister

Piyush Goyal, union minister of state for power, coal and new and  renewable energy, today said the centre was laying unprecedented thrust on renewable sources of energy "for the long-term energy security of India to meet our commitment to preserve the environment".

Speaking on the sidelines of Vibrant Gujarat, Goyal recounted Thomas Alva Edison telling Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone in a 1931 conversation: "We are like tenant farmers chopping down the fence around our house for fuel when we should be using Nature's inexhaustible sources of energy - sun, wind and tide. I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don't have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that."

Goyal said, the government has raised five-fold the solar energy target to 100,000 MW by 2022. Of this, 40,000 MW will be rooftop solar, where millions of people will become micro-entrepreneurs and sell power to the grid, thereby augmenting their income and reducing power bills, since they will only have to pay the "net" amount.

Similarly, the goverment is tripling wind power generation capacity to 60,000 MW, he said. India will become one of the principal markets for renewable energy development in the near future. The Unnat Chulha Abhiyaan is an innovative clean cooking stove programme, which functions on biomass and renewable fuels, and will save women and children from carcinogenic fumes emanating when traditional fuels are burned.

The governmentt foresees an investment of over $150 billion in renewables over the next few years, he said. A Renewable Energy Investment Summit (RE-Invest 2015) is being hosted in mid-February to attract such large quantum of investments. The ocean of opportunity ahead for India for clean energy is simply enormous.

Goyal said India recognises that its development programme should be dovetailed with its commitment to saving the environment.

He said, "The Hon'ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has often alluded to our activities causing "zero effect" to the environment."

He said Modi is a great proponent of an action-oriented approach to protect the environment as reflected in his book Convenient Action penned a few years ago.

Goyal also asserted India's carbon dioxide emissions are 1.64 tons per capita as against 16-17 tons per capita in many countries of the developed world.

"Considering the large population, in the aggregate the carbon footprint seems quite big. However, one must appreciate that India is at the cusp of its development cycle taking off and has to rapidly expand its infrastructure, home building programes affordable energy generation etc.

"Millions of people have to be brought out of poverty and access to education, healthcare and equal job opportunities need to be accelerated. Hence it is essential to calibrate the environment protection program to our development needs, the minister said.

"Renewable energy sources and energy efficient technologies feature prominently are in the agenda, but "energy access for all" is the first step. Also, from a cost perspective, while the trajectory of renewables looks promising, at present, thermal power is indeed the cheapest source of energy generation."

For a country whose per-capita GDP is a modest $1,500, it is unreasonable to burden the common man with significantly higher costs in the present, considering the large investments required; while major polluters in the world have not done so themselves during their own development period.

The Centre believes it is only fair to have a reciprocal and just arrangement inter-se the developed and developing countries of the world.