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India's Prime Minister Vows to Double Renewable Energy Capacity

India will seek to double the amount of renewable energy it can generate to 55 GW in the next four years, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in his inaugural address.

"It is proposed to double the renewable energy capacity in our country from 25,000 MW in 2012 to 55,000 MW by the year 2017. This would include exploiting non-conventional energy sources such as solar, wind power and energy from biomass," Singh said.

These initiatives were announced as part of the prime minister's presentation of India's 12th Five Year Plan.

Developed countries are the ones best poised to help meet the challenge of climate change, he said, adding that India has set a goal of cutting its energy use by 20 to 25 percent by 2020 by increasing its energy efficiency.

Another measure the prime minister called for is an international research and development center for solar energy. This National Institute of Solar Energy could be operational by 2015, he said. Research into solar thermal and solar photovoltaic would be part of this initiative.

The price of producing solar power was cut in half over the past two years, he said, going on to acknowledge that fossil-fired power generation, such as coal power, is still less expensive. The difference, he said could be made up for with subsidies.

About 87.5 percent of India's electricity is generated from non-renewable sources. Coal constitutes 57 percent of India's installed capacity.

In December 2011, over 300 million Indian citizens had no access to electricity — most of these residents are from rural areas.

This article was originally published on Electric Light & Power and was republished with permission.

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