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“I am very pleased to inaugurate this Fourth Clean Energy Ministerial in New Delhi. This is the first time this Ministerial meeting has been convened in India. I take this opportunity to welcome all the participating Ministers and members of their delegations, and also the representatives of international organizations, the private sector and non-governmental organizations participating in this important meeting.
The search for clean energy is extremely important for two reasons. First, energy is both scarce and expensive and yet it is vital for development. If developing countries are to meet their developmental objectives they have to expand all sources of supply, including both conventional and non-conventional energy. Second, clean energy is especially important because it can progressively substitute for fossil fuel based energy, which brings with it the collateral damage associated with emissions of CO2 and other green house gases.
Greater use of clean energy obviously contributes to sustainability of the development process, and this issue will become more important in the years that lie ahead. Developing countries account for 82 percent of the world’s population and they use 55 percent of the available global supply of energy. They must aim at faster growth of their GDP to improve the living standards of their populations and this will entail an expanded demand for energy. If they follow the industrialized countries in meeting their energy requirements through fossil fuel based energy, we know that the impact on the global climate would be simply unsustainable.
This poses a global challenge. We can only meet the challenge by responding in two ways. First, we must contain the total growth in energy associated with the growth of GDP by improving energy efficiency. Second, we can work to shift from conventional to non-conventional or clean energy.
Both actions help to mitigate emissions and both involve costs. But, the costs are borne by the country taking the actions whereas the benefits extend to the whole world. An optimal level of mitigation on the part of all countries can come only through globally coordinated action. An acceptable global energy strategy must also be based on equitable sharing of the burden of mitigation and adjustment.
On any principle of equity, the industrialized countries have to bear a large share of the burden. They are historically responsible for the bulk of the accumulated GHG emissions and this alone suggests a greater responsibility. They also have high per capita incomes which give them the highest capacity to bear the burden. They are technically the most advanced, and to that extent best placed to provide workable solutions not only for themselves but for the entire world.
These issues have been the focus of intense discussion in the Climate Change Negotiations being conducted under the auspices of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Unfortunately, progress in these negotiations is painfully slow. The goal of stabilising global temperatures at acceptable levels is nowhere in sight.
However, while we must work to ensure that the UN Framework Convention process reaches some acceptable outcome, individual countries have to take action to increase energy efficiency and also promote clean energy. There is need for inter-country consultation and discussion in these areas to promote information exchange and to identify possible areas of collaboration, and also to learn from each other’s experience in addressing common problems. The Clean Energy Ministerial has made a major contribution to such discussions.
The initiative for launching the Ministerial was taken by Dr. Steven Chu, U.S. Energy Secretary. Dr. Chu, a very distinguished Nobel Laureate, has announced his intention to return to academic life. We are therefore fortunate in having him with us today, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his contribution and to wish him well for the future. I have no doubt that he will continue to contribute to evolving a consensus on the important issues which the CEM has been grappling with.
In the three years since it was first launched, the Clean Energy Ministerial has promoted a number of initiatives in the area of expanding supplies of clean energy and promoting technologies for energy efficiency in a cost effective manner. I am very happy to state that India is an active participant of several of these initiatives.
Our 12th Five Year Plan recognises the importance of evolving a low carbon strategy for inclusive and sustainable growth. We have set ourselves a national target of increasing the efficiency of energy use to bring about a 20 to 25 percent reduction in the energy intensity of our GDP by 2020. The Plan also envisages an expanded role for clean energy, including traditional sources of clean energy such as hydel power and non conventional sources such as solar and wind power.
The full exploitation of hydel power has long been a part of India’s energy strategy, though there are environmental limitations in this regard owing to problems of submergence of forests and the need to rehabilitate affected populations. We will work to resolve these problems.
We are also taking steps to exploit non conventional clean energy sources such as solar and wind power, and also energy from the bio mass. It is proposed to double the renewable energy capacity in our country from 25000 MW in 2012 to 55000 MW by the year 2017.
The pace at which we can expand our reliance on these new energy sources is constrained by the fact that they are more expensive than conventional energy. However, costs are falling. The cost of solar energy for example has nearly halved over the last two years, though it remains higher than the cost of fossil fuel based electricity. If the cost imposed by carbon emissions is taken into account, then solar energy is more cost effective, but it is still more expensive. However, with costs expected to fall further in the years that lie ahead, it will soon be fully competitive at the margin.
Counting on the probability of falling costs in this area, we have launched a Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission with the objective of developing 22,000 MW of solar capacity by the year 2022 covering both solar photovoltaic and solar thermal. The cost differential is being covered by different forms of subsidy and cross subsidy. A solar capacity of about 1500 MW has already been installed in the country, and an additional 10,000 MW will be implemented by the end of the 12th Five Year Plan, ending in 2017.
Solar energy has the advantage of permitting decentralized generation which is cost effective in serving people in the remote rural areas where extension of the grid would be rather expensive.
As we expand our reliance on solar energy, we are keen to ensure induction of the best technology and also to encourage domestic production of the equipment needed. India is potentially a large market for production of such equipment. It is also a potentially competitive and attractive production base for supplying other countries. We therefore strongly encourage global manufacturers to set up production facilities in this area.
As part of the Solar Mission we are setting up a National Institute of Solar Energy, which would be a global level R&D centre, which could draw upon international cooperation as well, to enable the cre¬ation of more affordable and convenient solar power systems, and promote innovations that enable the storage of solar power for sustained, long-term use. It is expected that this Institute will be in position by the year 2015.
India’s wind potential in both onshore and offshore areas is being re-assessed to draw a long term plan for exploiting this source of energy. It appears that our potential for harnessing wind power is much larger than was earlier anticipated, though the potential is concentrated in certain parts of our country.
Expanding grid interactive renewable power requires supporting improvements in technologies of grid management to deal with the expected fluctuation in generation from these energy sources. There are fluctuations within the day as in the case of solar energy, and also fluctuations over seasons in the case of wind. How are we to manage a system where important components fluctuate significantly is an important focus area for our Government. Battery storage is one solution and pump storage another. Here too costs are critical but there is scope for cost reduction. We are keen to learn from international experience in this regard.
The Government has also launched a National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency to focus on energy efficiency in sectors ranging from appliances, buildings, transport and industries. The Mission focuses on establishment of standards and also on market related incentives based on the imposition of mandated efficiency standards in selected industries with tradable energy certificates incentivising companies to do better than the standard.
I am sure other countries participating in this Ministerial have similar initiatives. We are keen to learn from their experience and would be happy to share ours.
We are in the process of raising fuel efficiency standards in our transport sector. We have already decided to mandate 5% blending of ethanol in the motor spirit.
We are also launching a National Mission on Electric Mobility and I am happy to state that the Government of India will be joining the Electric Vehicle Initiative of the Clean Energy Ministerial.
One of the critical issues in promoting expansion of clean energy is financing of green energy. Investments in green energy are subject to technological, commercial and regulatory risk. For the moment green energy is not viable on its own without subsidy or regulatory incentives. Investors obviously need assurance that these incentives will continue. Market forces alone will not provide sufficient financing in this environment unless the risks of policy change are appropriately addressed. I am happy that the Ministers have scheduled a separate session on financing. We need to know more about what each of us is doing and this Ministerial is an excellent platform for experience sharing across the countries.
These are early days in our effort at developing a workable strategy and much remains to be done. I have no doubt that your deliberations will go a long way in developing a workable agenda for energy efficiency and expansion of clean energy for the world.
I wish you all success in the course of your deliberations over these two days and I hope you will all enjoy your stay in New Delhi, and perhaps even get a chance to see some of our country.”