A Focus on India and Its Energy
Energy is synonymous with wealth. The more energy a country uses, the wealthier a country has to be. More energy use means more carbon emissions (leading to global warming), but it also means more economic growth: food, goods, and jobs. Few countries stand to grow in the next few decades as much as India.
Energy is tied to growth. Ten years ago 1 billion Indians lacked access to electricity, now it is closer to 400 million. India's energy consumption is growing. A fight for more energy use is a fight against poverty; energy increases will produce more food, transport more kids to schools, transport more people to work, and transport more food to markets. Yet, as of 2003, India's power usage was 70% from coal- the greatest polluting fuel we have to burn.
Energy in India is inherently tied to coal. Asking India not to delve into their vast coal supply is asking India not to fight poverty. As of January 4, 2009 there remained 267 billion tons of coal within India's borders. That resource could power 78 billion US households in one year. However, India cannot go blindly following the path of developed countries. It has a unique opportunity for sustainable growth that isn't curtailed by an out of date infrastructure- a roadblock to other nations trying convert to renewable energy.
Energy in India has a unique opportunity to grow a sustainable, clean economy. Necessarily, India needs capital that it cannot readily acquire through its own industries. Due to unreliable supplies of energy and power outages many Indian industries generate electricity using their own diesel-powered turbines, thus placing economies of scale out of reach. There is little capital to improve infrastructure of railways needed for transport of coal. Similarly, there is little capital to supply improved clean-coal technologies. Hope comes in the involvement of foreign countries and organizations that see India's need and its vast potential. Outside parties could provide investments and provide patents of green technology to speed up the pace of India's cleaner future.
Clean energy for the world and for India. In a world where countries are deeply interconnected with one another, mutual benefits arise from common goals. India's clean future is the world's clean future. Increased involvement and funding from the World Bank or the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) could provide the capital necessary to improve railway infrastructure. Transportation efficiency would lead to relevant amounts of coal supplied to hungry industries; a jumpstart in infrastructure would ignite struggling economy. In the short and medium-term, coal will have to fuel ailing industries. India will need the help of more developed nations with access to advanced technology and patents to burn cleaner coal. Then and only then, when India can have a foothold on its economy and therefore poverty, can it invest into more expensive, more clean technologies such as wind and solar.
Photo Credit: Flickr