Q&A: India-US Green Energy Cooperation

June 24, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Deshakalyan Chowdhury/AFP/Getty Images
U.S Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit comes at critical time to revive cooperation on solar energy as India moves into scaling up its solar energy market, says Anjali Jaiswal.

Anjali Jaiswal,  a U.S-based attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council who works on the group’s India initiative, answered questions via email about the significance of U.S Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to the Indian capital of New Delhi, where climate change and cooperation on renewable energy are expected to top the discussions.

Wall Street Journal: What kind of cooperation between the two countries are you expecting to be announced during Secretary Kerry’s visit ?

Ms. Jaiswal: Secretary Kerry really needs to prioritize action on climate change during his talks with Indian leaders in New Delhi. Leadership on climate from both the U.S. and India is essential to accelerate building and appliance efficiency, scale-up solar energy, and prepare communities for the impacts of climate change. The U.S. can work with India to demonstrate strong global leadership by phasing down potent heat-trapping chemicals, saving energy, reducing local air pollution, and curbing climate change.

WSJ: Do you expect deeper cooperation in manufacturing of solar energy equipment?

Ms. Jaiswal: With less than 20 megawatts of installed solar energy in 2010, when India’s National Solar Mission was announced, India’s solar energy market has grown to over 1.7 gigawatts today. That’s tremendous growth. U.S. solar companies, funding sources, and government agencies played a key role in fostering India’s solar energy market. Secretary Kerry’s visit comes at critical time to revive cooperation on solar energy as India moves into scaling up its solar energy market. During the talks, the United States can work with India to develop solutions on growing solar energy jobs throughout the supply chain from operations to manufacturing.

WSJ: India is contemplating a policy that will give subsidies to solar projects that source solar equipment from domestic companies rather than the U.S. Do you think this could prove to be an obstacle in cooperation?

Ms. Jaiswal: U.S. solar companies, financial institutions, and government agencies continue to be interested in working with their Indian counterparts to grow the solar energy market in India. What we’ve seen from the first phase of the National Solar Mission is that India’s rules requiring domestic content for solar equipment had mixed results at best – they did not truly spur Indian manufacturing – at the same time, the rules didn’t slow down cooperation.

WSJ: Do you think the torrential floods in northern India this month, following last year’s drought, are evidence of how global climate change is affecting India’s weather, including the monsoon ?

Ms. Jaiswal: India is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. What’s worse is that the poor will suffer the most. The scientists tell us a warmer world means that India will suffer more severe droughts, erratic monsoons, and devastating heat waves. The World Bank report released this week rings the alarm bell again that we must take action to protect our communities from the impacts of climate change. The monsoon and its changing patterns because of climate is a major concern for India, considering that more than half of the billion people that live in India depend on agriculture for their livelihood. So without immediate action to protect our communities from climate change, India could face even greater unemployment, massive food shortages, and deadly health effects.

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