According to reports, the amount of research on clean technologies being carried out in Indian institutions is “abysmal,” and a major restructuring of Indian science and technology institutions and infrastructure is required, said Rajendra Pachauri, president of the The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), on the sidelines of the ongoing, third India-U.S. Energy Partnership Summit here.
When asked by The Hindu about whether India would press for support in financing technology transfers for clean energy Dr. Pachauri answered, “My own view is that we are probably making too much of this business of technology transfer and getting clean technologies free of cost.”
Yet, he added, if India had not come up with new and clean technology innovations thus far, that was the failure of India’s scientific and technical institutes. “If you look at the amount of research being carried out in our universities, including the IITs, it is abysmal. It is pathetic for a country of our size and development,” Dr. Pachauri said.
Emphasising the need for a rapid ramp-up in India’s strategy to attract and retain the best scientific minds, he noted that if India continued with the “business as usual,” by 2031-32 the country would be importing 750 million tonnes of oil annually, and 13 million tonnes of coal, raising serious questions about where such large amounts of fossil fuels imports would be sourced.
The ongoing summit is an effort to bring policymakers, business leaders and representatives of the research and academic community to take up the most pertinent challenges in the clean energy field and spur on activities that might be beneficial to both countries.
On the Indian side the strength is in terms of the cost of labour at every level including highly qualified scientists and technologists as well as those who work in production systems, Dr. Pachauri explained.
In contrast, “there is no getting away from the fact that in some of these cutting-edge technologies innovations will probably originate more from the U.S. than anywhere else,” he said. Describing the extent and intensity of research that takes place in U.S. universities as “quite amazing,” Dr. Pachauri argued that neither Europe nor any other part of the world was as yet at the same level.
Among the areas where TERI is hoping to see greater India-U.S. collaboration is in biofuels technology and research. In this regard there are still some open question on the U.S.’ first-generation biofuels based on corn and ethanol, but second-generation biofuels based on cellulose material and third-generation algal biofuels may be the way forward for India, he said.