India’s renewable energy minister this week vowed that his country will not deviate from its renewable energy targets if President-elect Donald Trump puts the brakes on U.S. commitments to tackling climate change.
Piyush Goyal was responding to concerns that a U.S. withdrawal from the climate change table would prompt India to row back on its sustainability goals.
Speaking at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, he said: “I can use this sustainability platform to let the world know that India is absolutely committed to renewable energy targets and clean energy growth and nothing will stop that.”
He said that India “doesn’t interfere in other countries’ political processes — if the people have elected a leader then we respect that.”
“So irrespective of what other countries do or do not do, India stands committed to being part of green energy.”
He said the move to clean power was “actually taking us back to our roots.” He explained that over the weekend he had visited Masdar City, where he noticed that “a lot of the architecture was the traditional architecture of centuries ago, so in some sense we are only going back to our roots when talk about cleaning up the environment.”
India signed up to the Paris climate agreement, and at the end of last year, published a 10-year energy blueprint, which predicted that 57 percent of India’s total electricity capacity will come from clean energy sources by 2027.
And Goyal stressed that he believed India would have no difficulty in finding the private investors for its huge solar, hydropower and wind plans.
“Frankly, I don’t see any strength of challenge to getting finance for these programs,” he said. “Gone are the days when governments had to grapple with subsidies. You don’t need to convince investors anymore — it is really in their own interests. It makes good economic sense to invest in energy efficiency and clean energy.”
He said that since India announced its ambitious renewable energy plans, “we have only seen the interest grow.”
Yet he was keen to add a dose of realism to the renewables drive. He said that India wanted “to engage with renewable energy, but we are also grappling with affordability and the baseload issue.” And while it tackles the baseload dilemma, he said India would continue to have to rely on coal. But he stressed that “we can do it smarter,” and explained that India would be looking to employ the latest supercritical technology on its oldest coal plants as well as utilize coal-to-gas technology.
Lead image: A wind turbine from a 17.5 MW wind farm project in India. Credit: Land Rover Our Planet | Flickr