Free for press/editorial use. ©2015 OMC.
Free for press/editorial use. ©2015 OMC.
WASHINGTON: More than a dozen organisations, businesses and clean energy venture capitalists have appealed to US President Barack Obama to collaborate with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to develop a “Power India” initiative.
In a letter, the groups led by the Sierra Club outlined the goals of the initiative which, if agreed upon by both governments, would aid the Indian government in its quest to increase the scale of clean energy deployment aimed at helping the country meet its ambitious clean energy and energy access goals — including solar power for all by 2019.
“If President Obama and Prime Minister Modi are able to successfully develop this initiative, Power India stands to ensure that hundreds of millions of people are guaranteed safe, reliable access to electricity,” said John Coequyt, the Sierra Club’s International Climate program director.
“By investing in modern clean energy technology that bypasses the costly, inefficient grid extensions of India’s past and reduces deadly pollution, we’ll be on track to not only ensure a 100 per cent electrified world, but a healthier world for all,” he said.
In addition to the Sierra Club, other organisations, businesses, and clean energy venture capitalists who have signed the letter to Obama are OMC Power, Schneider Electric, Simpa Networks and SunFunder.
“India’s goals to deliver solar for all citizens by 2019 and deploy 100,000 megawatts of solar power capacity in the next five to seven years are ambitious and admirable,” the letter said.
The US is well positioned to partner with the Indian government in achieving these goals by leveraging the broad array of bilateral support provided by agencies such as the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, US Export-Import Bank, and USAID in a coordinated manner, they wrote.
“Properly designed, such an initiative would unlock much needed support for clean energy projects and catalyse the expansion of beyond-the-grid solar markets to help alleviate energy poverty,” the letter said.
In creating such a programme, the US government can and should draw upon experience developed and lessons learned from the establishment of the renewable energy aspects of “Power Africa” initiative, including its off-grid-focused “Beyond the Grid” sub-initiative, they said.
“There is significant potential to replicate a ‘Beyond the Grid’ initiative in India, which is home to 400 million people without access to the centralised grid and a wealth of entrepreneurial approaches to solving the problem.
“Coordination of finance from key bilateral agencies can help scale up proven approaches to financing energy access and clean energy deployment, such as de-risking investment through loan guarantees,” said the letter dated January 22.
The proposed Power India initiative comes on the heels of remarkable climate progress in 2014 — including contributions to the Green Climate Fund and the US-China deal — and could help set the stage for across-the-board international climate action in the months leading up to the COP21 this December, the media release said.
“If 2014 is any indication, 2015 will continue the momentum for clean energy technology investment — and Power India is the first step we need to take,” said Coequyt.
Privately run microgrids provide power to large swathes of rural areas where electric supply is erratic or nonexistent. But they face formidable challenges.
Pradeep Singh, 37, owns one of the two gas stations at Attrouli village in Uttar Pradesh’s Hardoi district, 65 km north of Lucknow. Barely 30 per cent of the diesel he sells goes into vehicles; the rest is bought by village residents to run diesel generator (DG) sets for both household and agricultural needs. The village gets barely four to six hours of power on average a day from the grid, with 10 hours being the maximum it has ever got. “Yahaan bijli ka koi theek nahi hai (power supply here is very erratic),” he says. “We usually get power after 11 pm for a few hours, rarely during the day.”
SunEdison is looking to implement a multi-pronged approach to expand its footprint in the Indian solar market. In addition to utility-scale solar power projects, the company is also looking to install distributed solar power projects in Indian villages that lack access to electricity.
SunEdison has signed an agreement with India-based Omnigrid Micropower Company to set up off-grid solar power projects in 5,000 Indian villages. These projects would have a cumulative capacity of 250 MW. This would potentially be the largest private-sector initiative in the distributed solar power domain for rural India.