It’s a story of two democratic countries and the policies they pursue vis-à-vis energy.
So while the U.S. under President Donald Trump is kind of trying to revive its coal industry, far away India is doing the opposite – embracing clean energy with a vengeance and relying on it for much of its energy needs.
That’s one of the many reasons why India has also managed to beat the U.S. to the number two position in the renewable energy investment index released recently by UK-based accountancy firm Ernst & Young. China has continued to remain on top of this list, while the U.S. is now third. This is an annual ranking of the top 40 renewable energy markets in the world.
Those who prepared the report said that industry-friendly policies laid down by the Indian government, along with increasingly attractive economics, had changed the entire climate of the renewable energy sector of India.
Under Trump, the U.S. is seeing a shift in its energy policy. The president has issued orders to roll back many of the previous administration’s climate change policies, revive the U.S. coal industry and review the Clean Power Plan. Compare this to India’s neighbor China, which has announced that it would be spending $363 billion on developing renewable power capacity by 2020.
The E&Y report placed Germany in fourth place and France in eighth. Britain made a surprising re-entry at number ten. What seems to have gone in favour of India is the government’s plan to build 175 GW in renewable energy generation by 2022 and to have renewable energy account for more than 35% of installed capacity by the end of 2040.
The EY report further said India had added over 10 GW of solar capacity in the last three years, starting from a low base of 2.6GW in 2014. Outside of China, few other Asian countries made it to the top 25 list of “attractive” countries.
“India has zoomed past the U.S. to take the second spot on a list of the world’s most attractive renewable energy markets,” tweeted Power Minister Piyush Goyal in reaction to the EY report.
The report pointed out that the Indian government needed to ease rules related to foreign funds, which needed to be tapped to set off the concerns over capital availability. Also, though the governments emphasis on photo voltaic (PV) parks would help bridge the gap, more needs to be done to encourage rooftop installations.
India is in the middle of a vast energy transformation. Mainly powered by coal, India is adding 50% more solar and wind than the U.S. presently has installed. It’s even replacing 770 million street and household lights with energy-saving and long-lasting LEDs.
Such is its belief in what it’s doing, the country recently dropped plans to build nearly 14 gigawatts of coal-fired power stations.