By Natalie Obiko Pearson, Bloomberg.com
India is targeting generation of 20,000 megawatts of solar power by 2022, joining China as the two Asian nations that resist emission caps draft plans to boost renewable energy before next month’s global climate change talks.
India, Asia’s third-biggest energy consumer, is set to unveil its national solar energy plan “in about a week,” Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah said in Mumbai today.
China and India have opposed legally binding caps as industrialized nations seek commitments for programs that will curb the output of gases blamed for global warming. The two fastest-growing major economies balk at emission targets because their energy usage is projected to rise as more people are lifted out of poverty.
“It’s not a big challenge in terms of technology or engineering,” said Shirish Garud of the Energy and Resources Institute in New Delhi. “The major challenge will be in mobilizing the financing.”
Solar capacity costs anywhere from 160 million rupees to 200 million rupees per megawatt to install, Garud said. Abdullah didn’t give details of spending, saying only that the amount would be “huge.”
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh plans to discuss India’s solar plan at talks with U.S. President Barack Obama, Abdullah said. Obama will host Singh at the first state dinner of his presidency on Nov. 24.
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American Markets’ Slump Feeds Worry
By Steven Mufson, Washington Post Staff Writer, washingtonpost.com
President Obama has often described his push to fund “clean” energy technology as key to America’s drive for international competitiveness as well as a way to combat climate change.
“There’s no longer a question about whether the jobs and the industries of the 21st century will be centered around clean, renewable energy,” he said on June 25. “The only question is: Which country will create these jobs and these industries? And I want that answer to be the United States of America.”
But the leaders of India, South Korea, China and Japan may have different answers. Those Asian nations are pouring money into renewable energy industries, funding research and development and setting ambitious targets for renewable energy use. These plans could outpace the programs in Obama’s economic stimulus package or in the House climate bill sponsored by Reps. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.).
“If the Waxman-Markey climate bill is the United States’ entry into the clean energy race, we’ll be left in the dust by Asia’s clean-tech tigers,” said Jesse Jenkins, director of energy and climate policy at the Breakthrough Institute, an Oakland, Calif.-based think tank that favors massive government spending to address global warming.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke are visiting China this week to discuss cooperation on energy efficiency, renewable energy and climate change. But even though developing nations refused to agree to an international ceiling for greenhouse gases last week, China and other Asian nations are already devoting more attention to cutting their use of traditional fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas and coal.
South Korea recently said it plans to invest about 2 percent of its GDP annually in environment-related and renewable energy industries over the next five years, for a total of $84.5 billion. The government said it would try to boost South Korea’s international market share of “green technology” products to 8 percent by expanding research and development spending and strengthening industries such as those that produce light-emitting diodes, solar batteries and hybrid cars.
China and India are kick-starting their solar industries. India aims to install 20 gigawatts of solar power by 2020, more than three times as much as the photovoltaic solar power installed by the entire world last year, the industry’s best year ever. And China’s new stimulus plan raises the nation’s 2020 target for solar power from 1.8 gigawatts to 20 gigawatts. (A gigawatt is about what a new nuclear power plant might generate.)
“China is trying to catch up in a global race to find alternatives to fossil fuels,” the official China Daily said in an article last week.
“A lot of people underestimate how focused China is on becoming a global leader in clean technology,” said Brian Fan, senior director of research at the Cleantech Group, a market research firm. China now provides a $3-a-watt subsidy upfront for solar projects, he said, enough to cover about half the capital cost. Fan said it is “the most generous subsidy in the world” for solar power.
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