India’s proposal to set up a network of climate innovation centers across the world for the development of affordable clean energy technologies for the developing and poor countries has gained approval ‘in-principle’ at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference.
The issue of technology transfer has been a contentious one with the developed countries fearing loss of billions of dollars once their companies share or give up the intellectual property rights for the clean energy technologies. The developing countries, on the other hand, demand access to clean energy technologies so that they can improve their power generation and manufacturing efficiencies to reduce their carbon emission outputs.
Although the details of this proposal have not been worked out yet, it seems to be a much better solution to the proposal of actual transfer of clean energy technologies to the developed and poor countries. Through CICs the developed and developing countries can collaborate on developing affordable clean energy technologies best suited for the local conditions.
CICs would increase cooperation between scientific minds of the developed and developing world which would aimed at achieving cost parity between the conventional energy sources and renewable energy sources. India’s coal reserves which account for 55 percent of its total power generation are of poor quality and depleting fast. The Indian government plans large scale electrification of rural areas which would require affordable energy source, that is why cost parity is extremely important.
Thousands of researchers are working around the world independently to improve efficiencies of the renewable energy technologies like solar PV, wind turbine etc. CICs would bring researchers from all around the world to work for a common purpose of making renewable energy more affordable and more penetrable.
The developed and developing countries face many common issues as far as clean energy technology is concerned. Integration of renewable energy sources with existing grids, improvement of reliability and efficiency of distributed power systems in addition to addressing the problem of storage of energy in distributed systems and carbon storage are some of the issues that scientists from around the world should collaborate on.
Developing countries like China, India and Brazil have a lot to contribute in terms of technologies. Both India and China are major hubs of solar panels and wind turbines manufacturing while Brazil can offer its expertise on the biofuels front. These countries can not only develop affordable clean energy solutions for their own use but can also help the poor countries shift from fossil fuel based energy systems to clean energy systems. The ‘Lighting a Billion Lives‘ program initiated by the The Energy and Resources Institute can be implemented in African countries where there are no grid connections.
Developing countries have announced voluntary carbon reduction targets and would require adequate supply of clean technology and equipment in order to achieve the set targets. The transfer of clean energy technology cannot wait the elusive consensus on an international deal. Therefore, it is important that the plan of setting up Climate Innovation Centers goes through without any riders and is implemented at the earliest so that the developing countries can reduce their carbon outputs and the poor countries can access clean energy.
Image Credit: First Solar
The views presented in the above article are author’s personal views and do not represent those of TERI/TERI University where the author is currently pursuing a Master’s degree.