Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur)

India can lead the world in sustainabl­e growth


Aquarter-century of growth has transforme­d the lives of millions of Indians and offered India its rightful place on the global stage. India, now the sixthlarge­st economy, is predicted to move up three places by 2030.

This rapid growth trajectory also places India at the heart of the most critical question of the environmen­tal movement — can developing nations, which collective­ly generate the majority of global growth in the coming decade, reduce their carbon footprint while realising their economic potential?

India is currently among the top three nations in energy use, though way down the list on per capita basis. Its energy demand will grow the most on the planet over the next 20 years. Interestin­gly, it is not just economic growth driving this demand. According to the Internatio­nal Energy Agency (IEA), the population of India is anticipate­d to grow by 270 million over the next two decades — resulting in an increased demand for carbon-intensive industries such as cement and steel to house the population. India is also vulnerable to the climate crisis, notably due to the melting of the Himalayan glaciers and changes in the monsoon pattern. For a country aiming to become a $5 trillion economy and beyond, it is imperative to move towards a low-carbon and regenerati­ve economy.

In 2019, India ranked fourth globally in installed renewable power capacity, with solar and wind power leading the way. Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi has set a goal to generate 450 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2030 — this will represent five times the current capacity and amount to 60% of its total electricit­y generation from non-fossil fuel sources as against its Paris pledge to reach 40% by 2030.

Solar energy could be India’s salvation. With about 300 sunny days a year, India has the potential to lead the world in solar electricit­y, which will be less expensive than existing coal-fired power by 2030, even when paired with battery storage.

This will require the developmen­t of utility-scale renewable energy projects with innovative regulatory approaches that encourage pairing solar with other renewable technologi­es and storage to offer “roundthe-clock” supply. The other would be attracting foreign investment­s in renewables.

PM Modi’s call for “high speed, large scale, concrete action” to combat the climate crisis

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