Minister Piyush Goyal meets with MIT Energy Initiative Expertise to seek energy solutions for India.

India has recently set some of the most aggressive near-term energy goals of any nation in the world. Minister Goyal met with MIT Energy Initiative and Tata Center for Technology and Design to discuss and look for solutions that will help India meet its goals.

Goyal serves as minister for coal, power and renewable energy said, “India is embarking on most of its new development initiatives on the back of technology and that engagement with the United States has been very deep.”

One goal of India is to ensure that every part of the country gets electricity in the next 1,000 days.

There are currently 220 million people in India with no access to electricity at all, which is an estimated 50 million households. Those that do get electricity only have access for a few hours a day.

In major cities blackouts and power cuts are a common occurrence at peak usage times. Goyal is determined to make reliable 24 hours seven days a week electricity a reality in India.

“Affordability is a very integral part of our plans,” said Goyal.

India relies heavily on coal to power to power the country. Ahmed Ghoniem, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT, agreed that fossil fuels are an important part of the equation for developing countries that require energy solutions immediately.

“We cannot ignore the fact that there are billions of people who need power. Their lives are in danger unless we help to get the right technology for them. And it needs to happen right now, not fifty years from now,” said Ghoniem.

One solution to the electricity problem is the potential for solar-powered micro-grid solutions that could reach remote areas. The government would need to properly incentivize companies to invest in these projects.

Goyal and MIT have decided to collaborate in order to create new technologies and policies to meet India’s electrification goals.

Goyal says, “We will make it happen.”

This is not the first time India has looked to MIT for solutions. In September, India’s business, nonprofit and government sectors attended The Tata Center for Technology and Design Annual Symposium at MIT’s Media Lab. India continues to work with MIT researchers to overcome challenges and meet opportunities in the developing world.

Jordan Connell

Sources: MIT News, Tata Center Technology and Design
Photo: Google Images

Electricity has played a big role in the recent decrease of poverty rates in India. The country has received a lot of praise recently due to its strides in decreasing poverty.

The country has garnered attention in a lot of right ways from the rest of the world through serving as an example of progress. According to the World Bank, the success is largely due to electricity.

“India has reduced its poverty rate to 12.4% from the 2011-12 estimate of 21%, according to new data released by World Bank, which identified rural electrification as an important driving factor for everything from greater rural spending to schooling for girls.”

It is no secret that access to power is one of the key solutions to poverty. Rural electrification, the process of bringing electrical power to rural and remote areas, is one of the ways to increase that access. India has utilized rural electrification as the main solution to its power problem, and the results have been reportedly positive.

“By late 2012, the national electricity grid had reached 92 percent of India’s rural villages, about 880 million people.”

In areas that the grid was not able to reach, renewable energy has been promoted. This reflects well on India’s environmental and human consciousness, since those who rely on wood and biomass for heat end up producing air pollution, which is not only harmful to the planet, but “attributable for 4.3 million deaths each year,” according to World Bank.

This is why the UN created the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, which aims to achieve the following three objectives by 2030:

  1. Universal access to electricity and clean cooking fuels
  2. Doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix
  3. Doubling the improvement rate of energy efficiency

85 countries have already opted into the initiative, including India, through its CLEAN Energy Access Network. CLEAN’s goal is to grow the clean energy sector in India and improve energy access for the rural and urban poor over the next three years.

Prime Minister Modi of India has already showed his support for renewable energy, as he stated solar energy as the ultimate solution to India’s energy problem in August.

This is all a good indication that India is capitalizing on its recent success in order to increase its energy access and efficiency.

Ashley Tressel

Sources: Indian Infoline, World Bank 1, Se4all, World Bank 2, India Times
Photo: Bloomberg