India Wants Energy That Doesn’t Melt Glaciers, Modi Says

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Modi’s recently concluded visit to Australia was the first for an Indian prime minister in as many as 28 years. Needless to say, energy was a key part of the discussions. Piyush Goyal, India’s energy minister, let loose the proverbial cat among the pigeons when he announced that India would be looking to shut down its coal imports within a time frame of 3 years.

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PM Modi during his Australian visit (Source: Press Information Bureau)

But that did not stop Modi from revisiting the topic. During his address to a joint session of the Australian Parliament on Tuesday, sprinkled with generous doses of humour, Modi spoke quite clearly on what India intends to do for its energy future. He called for a partnership with Australia to provide India, among other things, “Energy that does not cause our glaciers to melt — clean coal and gas, renewable energy or fuel for nuclear power (and) cities that are smart, sustainable.”

You can access the full speech here, and here’s video of the speech:

The Modi government has not restricted itself to any particular energy source and has been trying to get access to virtually anything so as to meet its goal of providing electricity to all by 2019.

Back in September, India and Australia had signed a uranium supply deal. And only last week, Indian conglomerate Adani Enterprises announced its intentions to pour $7 billion to develop a coal mine, rail, and port project in Queensland (Australia).

Referring to these announcements, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told the Parliament: “If all goes to plan next year, an Indian company will begin the development of Australia’s largest coal mine which will light the lives of 100 million Indians for the next half-century.” He added: “If all goes to plan, Australia will export uranium to India, under suitable safeguards, of course, because cleaner energy is one of the most important contributions that Australia can make to the wider world.”

But it seems both these deals have a shaky future at best. Nuclear projects have been suffering worldwide ever since the Fukushima accident. India has offered the state-owned French firm Areva, with which negotiations are at an advanced stage, a power price of INR 6.50/kWh — twice the average electricity price from indigenous nuclear reactors. But Areva wants more. And this is just the tip of the (nuclear) iceberg.

The ambitious coal project has also run into troubled waters with no bank ready to finance it. For some time, it appeared that the Indian government’s State Bank of India would help fund the deal, but now it has backed off, clarifying that it has merely signed an MoU with Adani, and it will do proper due diligence before sanctioning the $1 billion.

On his next stop over  at Fiji, Modi announced a line of credit of $70 million for development of solar and wind power in the island country.

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Anand Upadhyay

is a Fellow with The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI, New Delhi). He tweets at @indiasolarpost. Views and opinion if any, are his own.

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