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Renewable is the way forward for India’s energy security: Narendra Modi

According to reports, spelling out his energy security plans for India’s development, Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi blamed the central government for mismanagement of the country’s natural resources.

“With the country having so much natural resources, India hasn’t progressed much in the 21st century,” Modi said on Wednesday at the inauguration of a solar power project in Neemuch.

Articulating his strategy for the energy sector, Modi said India should harness coal, gas, hydropower, solar energy, bio-mass and nuclear and wind power to bring about an “energy revolution” in the country.

India’s national action plan on climate change recommends that the country generate 10% of its power production from solar, wind, hydropower and other renewable sources by 2015, and 15% by 2020. India has an installed power generation capacity of 2,27,356.73 megawatt (MW), of which 12.4%, or 28,184.35MW, is renewable energy.

Drawing comparisons between different regions of the country and the energy shortage, Modi said while there was darkness on one side, 20,000MW of capacity was lying idle on the other.

“While there is a demand, there is no electricity,” the BJP’s prime ministerial aspirant said.
Modi blamed the non-availability of sufficient coal and gas in the country as a reason behind power capacity lying idle.

Gas-fuelled power projects with an aggregate capacity of 8,000MW that are close to commissioning and another 1,500MW that have been already commissioned have been stranded in the absence of gas. In addition, another 18,000MW capacity is operating at a plant load factor (PLF) of 20%. PLF is a measure of average capacity utilization.

The power projects require 102.61 million standard cubic metres per day (mscmd) of gas.
“If we want to industrialize, electricity is the first necessity,” said Modi.
Modi also presented a picture of energy resources across the country.

“With eastern part of the country rich in water resources, it is a heaven for hydro power generation; also our coasts are fit for wind energy. Similarly our plains such as Gujarat and Rajasthan are fit for solar energy generation. If the planners had thought of these factors and formed a policy India wouldn’t be so dependent on energy imports,” Modi said.

India’s energy demand is expected to more than double by 2035, from less than 700 million tonnes of oil equivalent (mtoe) today, to around 1,500 mtoe, according to the oil ministry’s estimate.

India, which is highly dependent on imports to meet its energy demand, has an energy import bill of $150 billion. This is expected to reach $300 billion by 2030, requiring a $3.6 trillion payout by 2030.

Modi, who has been blamed for avoiding specifics of his development agenda, said India’s current account deficit (CAD) has increased because of coal imports.

India plans to restrict its CAD to $50 billion in the year ending 31 March, finance minister P. Chidambaram had earlier said. For the last fiscal, CAD was at $88 billion with total imports worth $491 billion and oil imports ballooning to $164 billion.

“The CAD became a problem because coal imports increased. We have coal, we have the resources, but the central government doesn’t have the proper policies to harness it. If India needs to become sufficient we will have to become energy independent. Electricity is an important factor,” Modi added.

India is the world’s fourth-largest energy consuming nation and imports 80% of its crude oil and 18% of its natural gas requirements. The country trails the US, China and Russia, accounting for 4.4% of global energy consumption.

Modi also talked about environment versus development debate, and said, “If we don’t protect environment then development will be in danger. Environment friendly development desires non-renewable form of energy generation,” he added.

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