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Speech by Minister of Power, Mr. Sushil Kumar Shinde at the "Green India Summit" at the US Chamber of Commerce

Washington, DC 
October 15, 2008

Ambassador Ronen Sen,
President of the US – India Business Council Ron Somers,
Krista Sweigart, 
Distinguished Guests 
Ladies & Gentlemen,

It gives me immense pleasure to be with you today at the ‘Green India Summit’ jointly organized by the US-India Business Council and the Confederation of Indian Industry. Both the organizations have been making tremendous efforts at giving a concrete shape to the ongoing cooperation and collaboration between our two countries. I am sure that the Council and the Confederation will further serve to draw not just the two business communities in our countries closer, but also our two great peoples.

Friends, India’s path of development is based on both its own unique resource endowments, as well as the underlying premise of using every resource that India can access in an efficient and sustainable manner. Rapid economic growth and poverty eradication are the twin goals that we have along with our deep belief and adherence to our civilizational legacy, which places the highest value on the environment and maintenance of ecological balance. For us in India, sustainable development is an article of faith. We intend to use all available energy resources towards the well being of the people of India: a large percentage of whom have remained deprived from access to commercial energy.

Enhancing energy supply and access is, therefore, a key component of our national development strategy. We plan to increase per capita availability of electricity to 1000 units by the year 2012 by harnessing various sources of energy in the cleanest possible way. The choice of fuel is often guided by the geographical location, availability and affordability.

India is one of the first developing countries which had achieved the unique distinction of successfully achieving the decoupling of economic growth from energy use. This is reflected in the rapid decline in energy intensity in the recent past despite the fact that our economy grew at the rate of about 9%. The IEA publication of 2008 brings out clearly that India, with an energy intensity of 0.14 tonnes of oil equivalent is comparable with the advanced countries and is better than China and other developing countries. Despite this India has taken a proactive approach to further improve efficiency both in energy demand and down the supply chain. Special efforts are being made for the development of renewables and promotion of energy efficiency.

The new Electricity Act enacted in the year 2003, requires that distribution companies must buy a part of their total electricity from renewable sources. The regulators also give preferential prices for power from renewable sources. Over the past three years this has resulted in the addition of about 7000 MW of renewable-electricity capacity, bringing the total installed capacity of renewables to over 12,000 MW.

Out of this, 7000 MW is based on wind power, ranking India as the fourth largest wind power producer in the world. Our National Policy places the highest priority on the development of all possible potential of hydro electricity which is a clean and renewable source of energy. The share of hydro power in India has risen to 36,000 MW and we intend to add about 16,500 MW more of hydro power in the next 5 years.

Nuclear energy, which currently accounts for less than 3% of the domestic capacity, will constitute an important component of India’s energy mix in the future. We have made significant advances in our domestic three-stage nuclear programme. The historic India-US civil nuclear initiative, which has enabled India to resume nuclear commerce with the United States and other countries, will give a major boost to India’s nuclear energy programme and, therefore, our ability to reduce our dependence on fossil fuel. Through international cooperation and domestic development, nuclear energy could meet as much as 20% of the energy demand in India by 2050, adding potentially tens of thousands of MW of nuclear energy capacity in the country. We hope that the signing of the agreements with the United States last week, and earlier with France, will pave the way for early commencement of commercial arrangements.

While we stress the increase in generation, we are also vigorously pursuing energy conservation measures. We enacted the Energy Conservation Act in 2001 and the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) was set up at the national level. This has given a major thrust to our efforts to increase energy efficiency in various sectors.

Sustainable and accelerated economic growth in the country requires commensurate growth in demand for energy. This demand growth has had an adverse effect on energy security of the country, not only due to the price volatility in the oil and gas market but also on account of supply constraints. Energy Conservation is a vital policy tool in our quest to promote energy efficiency as a cost effective and environmentally benign supplement to the overall energy sector strategy. We are striving to reduce energy intensity of the economy by using a combination of appropriate regulatory frameworks, leadership and best-practice emulation programmes, and outreach and awareness campaigns. The Government of India is committed to the pursuit of our quest towards evolving a credible and sustainable national energy efficiency and conservation agenda and thereby stimulating market transformation in favour of energy efficient technologies and products.

Latest in our series of efforts is the Prime Minister’s pronouncement of the National Action Plan on Climate Change. The Action Plan has identified eight missions, including the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency with a view to initiate result oriented time bound mechanism for achieving the objective of sustainable and rapid economic growth along with effectively dealing with the global threat of climate change. The Action Plan has scaled up the energy efficiency efforts on a Mission mode and we have set ourselves an ambitious target of achieving savings of 5% of energy consumption by way of energy conservation measures by the year 2012. In the first year of the plan, that is, in the year 2007-2008, we have been able to achieve 623 MW of avoided capacity.

A National Solar Mission has also been launched as a part of the National Action Plan on Climate Change to significantly increase the share of solar energy in the total energy mix while recognizing the need to expand the scope of other renewable and non-fossil options such as nuclear energy, wind energy and bio-mass. India is a tropical country, where sunshine is available for longer hours per day and in great intensity. Solar energy, therefore, has great potential as a future energy source. It also has the advantage of permitting decentralized distribution of energy, thereby empowering people at the grassroots level. Photovoltaic cells are becoming cheaper with new technology. There are newer, reflector-based technologies that could enable setting up megawatt scale solar power plants across the country. Another aspect of the Solar Mission would be to launch a major R&D programme, which could also draw upon international cooperation, to enable the creation of more affordable and convenient solar power systems and to promote innovations that enable the storage of solar power for sustained, long-term use. The details of this mission are under preparation. I am sure this will provide the much needed stimulus to solar energy in India.

Friends, today the world faces the reality of global warming and its impact would not be an isolated occurrence confined to the countries which have contributed towards accumulating the carbon footprint but the future of the entire planet is at stake and successful resolution of this crisis would largely depend on how we globally tackle this challenge.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is the main framework for international action to address climate change. The convention recognizes that countries are at different levels of development and provides for common but differentiated responsibilities of the countries. India’s per capita emission is still amongst the lowest in the world. I may point out that this is just 23% of the global average.

We are aware of the historical developments that have led to the precarious environmental balance today. India and the United States share a common concern regarding the energy crisis and have an effective cooperation programme that is ongoing. Under the US-India Energy Dialogue, we both aim at strengthening energy security, promoting stable energy markets and managing green house gas emissions.

India has taken a major lead in participating in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) programme and is diligently pursuing, in partnership with United States and other countries, the goal for cleaner environment through the Asia Pacific Partnership on Climate Change and Development. India is also an active member of Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum. We are the first partner of the United States in the development of near emission free power from coal in the Future Gen Project. The Future Gen initiative was progressing well, however, due to some compulsions the United States decided to shelve the project and we lost an excellent initiative. We are willing to be in the vanguard of any clean and efficient power development initiative.

However, I would like to clarify that asking developing, populous countries like India to take up Carbon Capture Storage schemes at such an early stage of the development of this technology may not be acceptable. We are willing to participate in any R&D on Carbon Capture and Storage, but unless the commercial viability on the technology is fully established and its safety features amply proved, it would just not be appropriate for India to take up such a project even at the demonstration level. There is another important factor that cannot be overlooked. I understand that Carbon Capture and Storage will double the cost of generation and that would definitely be difficult to accept for developing nations.

I am of the firm belief that cleaner power development technologies must be developed and shared through international cooperation. If we believe that climate change is a genuine global concern, we should not leave the dispersal and proliferation of cleaner energy technologies to market forces and commercial interest alone. If we trust so implicitly in the market, clean technologies will not be affordable or accessible to those countries and people, who need energy most and are the fastest growing. The theme of this Conference should be inter-dependence and we must make the common development and sharing of cleaner technology a major recommendation if we are to sincerely pursue economic development with environment protection. Developed countries should contribute to sustainable development of the world by providing the requisite funding support for development of cleaner technologies in the public domain and for their adoption in the developing countries.

I wish the successful conclusion of the Summit and hope the recommendations emerging from this Summit would create the effective base for creating global consensus on this vital issue which is threatening the civilization.