Addressing climate change is often seen as a burden for developing countries but there are also enormous opportunities for growth in the global shift towards clean energy.
As a developing country, India faces a challenging balancing act. Coal may have a continued role to play in India in the medium-term, but India is working hard to minimise its long-term dependence on fossil fuels.
The renewable energy sector has received a shot in the arm thanks to the new government’s thrust on renewables. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has laid out his vision to achieve the country’s energy independence with plans to build the first offshore wind farm and to provide solar energy to the 400 million people currently without power.
However, while renewable energy is a clear priority of the Indian Government, coal use in India is still projected to increase. This is not sustainable in the long-term. In its most recent World Energy Outlook the International Energy Agency warned that the fossil-fuel investments made today are locking in emissions for many decades to come.
India has a choice: we can adopt the greenhouse intensive energy systems we see in many first world countries; or we can find a different path to achieving clean and reliable power.
India quietly sidestepped the need to roll out extensive hardwired telecommunications infrastructure by deploying wireless technology that has allowed 900 million people to now use mobile phones. In the same way, the absence of extensive power network infrastructure creates an opportunity for India to develop localised, distributed energy systems fuelled by wind, solar and biomass.
At the Suzlon Group, the world’s fifth largest wind energy company, we are proof that India does not have to settle for old conventional fossil-fuel solutions, and in fact can be an export powerhouse of affordable clean energy technologies for the rest of the world.
Suzlon now has over 25,000 megawatts of installed capacity in over 30 countries, including Australia, pioneering wind power solutions across the globe.
We are part of India’s renewables success story. India has already seen $3 billion invested in renewable energy this year, and the export market for Indian renewable energy solutions is forecast to grow from $1.2 billion currently to $US23 billion by 2020.
One thing is clear the world over. Investment in clean energy requires a clear and stable policy environment. In Australia, investment in clean energy projects has stalled while the Renewable Energy Target is reviewed. Let’s hope that India learns from this experience and puts in place long-term investment-grade policy that will underpin the move to a clean energy economy.
Tulsi Tanti is the founder, chairman and managing director of Suzlon Group, the world's fifth biggest wind power firm which includes Senvion Australia.
Tulsi Tanti poses in front of the approximately 120m Wind Turbine Generator developed by Suzlon Energy at Nani Ber village in the Kutch region of Gujarat state, about 550km from Ahmedabad on November 6, 2014. Wind energy major Suzlon Energy has developed a new hybrid wind turbine generator, which at some 120m, is billed as the world's tallest hybrid wind turbine generator. (Source: AFP)