Friday, June 19, 2015

Air Pollution and Clean Power

Regarding air pollution: Was Pittsburgh in the 1940s-50s worse than modern New Delhi or BeijingWas Los Angeles as bad? This set of pictures of then and now may help.

Rich capitalists in the West want Indians to go without electric power rather than cut back themselves on carbon dioxide emissions.  They do not have the temerity to demand this of China.  They mask all this as a pious concern about air pollution in India.

The Western meat-lover's diet - diet alone - is 3.3 tons of CO2  per year.  If he drives a car or flies to Europe for a vacation, he rapidly adds up. E.g., a round trip from New York to Paris, one that a Paul Krugman, for instance, might often take, adds another 0.93 tonsA chap driving 12,000 miles in a 2013 Ford Pickup adds 4.9 metric tons of C02 to the atmosphere.

This World Bank number is a few years out of date, but Indian per capita CO2 emission is 1.7 tons per year (2010-2014).

There is no denying that clean, carbon-neutral energy is important for India and for the planet.  In that regard, the target for solar power in India is ambitious.  Is is unrealistic?
According to the latest announcement, achieving the 100 GW target will require around 600,000 crore, or approximately $100 billion.
According to Bridge to India, there are a number of challenges and setbacks in the government’s way to achieving these targets, including land acquisition, grid infrastructure, and financing. The group found that it would take around $40 billion worth of debt for the country to reach the 60 GWs of utility-scale solar it aims to install by 2022. 
The American Republican Party is in denial about climate change, just listen to its Presidential aspirtants. The GOP hardly enables infrastructure investment within America.  It is therefore likely that however this plays out, America will not play a significant role in helping finance clean power for India.  It might behoove Americans (except Sun Edison and First Solar and such), then, to keep silent rather than poking at India.

Forbes, India, has an article about all the obstacles to achieving a 100 GW solar power target.

The government, despite pushing for the development of renewable energy, did not specify a roadmap to achieve its proposed targets in the Union Budget of 2015: The announcements of reduced taxes and increased buy-back rates made in the budget would have negligible effect on the cost of production. But Vineet Mittal, vice-chairman of Welspun Renewables, is confident of policy changes in the future: “Prime Minister Modi is passionate about clean energy. He understands the energy sector better than other politicians because he turned it around for Gujarat… The MNRE and Piyush Goyal [minister of state with independent charge for power, coal and new & renewable energy] were very scientific about this. They’ve been consulting us since July.” The Welspun Group has been one of the early movers in the solar sector and has pledged to develop 8.6 GW of solar power. The government has decided to revive the long-pending Renewable Energy Bill which will cover several aspects related to the generation and distribution of clean energy. Mittal believes the Bill, if ratified by Parliament into an Act, should increase RPOs to 15 percent and provide routes for financing, such as infrastructure funds and green energy bonds.