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Senior Government Officials Urge Indian Pivot to Renewables

Yahoo! Blog/Wikimedia Commons

A panel of senior government bureaucrats is urging India Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make a decisive turn away from coal and other fossil fuels in favour of renewable sources to meet the growing energy needs of the country’s 1.2 billion people and its developing economy.

India already appeared to be wavering in its commitment to coal. As recently as late 2015, it had planned to double its coal output by 2020, opening a new mine every month to satisfy its population’s unmet appetite for electricity. Through 2016, however, it announced a series of cancellations of new coal-fired capacity, while unsold inventory piled up at state-owned Coal India.

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Meanwhile, solar electricity became cheaper than coal at the beginning of 2016, with the forecast that it would come in at 90% of coal’s cost by 2020.

Now, the Indian Express reports, a group of senior Indian government secretaries, convened last fall to recommend a new national strategy on energy and the environment, is urging Modi “to shift the focus to renewables to achieve India’s energy security.”

The group recommended that the prime minister raise the capacity limit for hydroelectric generation projects to qualify for government financial support from 25 to 100 megawatts. They also called for supply auctions for six gigawatts of additional wind power every year, and support for electric vehicles in public and government transport.

Modi assigned 10 “Groups of Secretaries” in October to study various sectors of the nation’s economy and make recommendations for strengthening them. The Their proposals are expected to make their way into the 2017-2018 national budget.