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Published on July 1st, 2016 | by Zachary Shahan


India’s Renewable Energy & Coal Minister Talks Energy Transition (CleanTechnica Exclusive)

July 1st, 2016 by  

Aside from two other Indian ministers, SunEdison’s President of Asia Pacific & Sub-Saharan, and me, India’s Minister of Coal, Power, and New & Renewable Energy, Piyush Goyal, was another one of the key presenters at the Edelweiss institutional investment conference in Mumbai, India, earlier this year. In the video below, he first gives a 20-minute political speech on lofty matters such as bringing electricity to the populations of India that lack it and transitioning to clean, renewable energy.

He also focused on the hard work the Modi administration has been doing to build a strong foundation for improvement across various sectors of the country, work that may not always bring a magic wand to the country’s problems, but that should enable consistent, sustainable, long-term improvement across India.

Once Piyush Goyal sat down, he was delivered more specific, potent questions from top executives at Edelweiss. Interestingly, the first one highlighted, quite incorrectly, the challenges of growing the economy on renewable energy rather than coal when renewables are “much more expensive” than coal. Mr Goyal was correct to squash that out of date misinformation, but it, unfortunately, took him awhile to get to that correction. He first bashed the US and Europe for being responsible for much of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions — a political tactic, for sure, which was interesting to witness in India to an Indian audience rather than on one of the global media channels where I normally see such comments, but certainly a strong and valid point. He then talked about the need for baseload coal in India, which is actually a red herring (see here, here, and here for just a few takedowns of the baseload meme in regards to the new energy economy).

Mr Goyal then talked about working toward carbon capture and “clean coal,” which many here would consider BS smoke & mirrors, but then he made an impassioned pitch about Indian also being global citizens and needing to do their part to stop global warming. Then, he finally got around to cost, and he said renewables costs much less than people typically think (yes), and that costs have fallen much more in the past year than people expected — but in line with what he had said (and been ridiculed for) a year before.

Mr Goyal also answered questions about natural gas, tariffs, India Coal production, and other matters. Have a watch:

And, as an addendum, here’s a useful video about baseload power production, and then my presentation at this same conference:

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.

  • JamesWimberley

    It doesn’t matter much what Goyal says about coal. As long as he maintains the pressure on wind and solar, and allows competition to do its thing in the wholesale electricity market, coal will crumple anyway. The renewables worsen the capacity factors of already problematic coal plants – the German disease. Domestic coal prices are bound to rise as those of wind and solar fall.

    • Frank

      And carbon capture. LOL like coal, only even much more expensive, riding in on a unicorn to save the day.

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      • Haha, yeah. I took that as lip service for an industry on its death bed. I’m hopeful. 😀

      • JamesWimberley

        Carbon capture as developed by coal generators is a dead end. But we must not give up on carbon sequestration – it is now almost certain we will need this on a gigantic scale. Come in reafforestation, biochar, olivine weathering, carbon – positive cement, and any Miracle Breakthrough Gates and friends will finance.

        • “we must not give up on carbon sequestration – it is now almost certain we will need this on a gigantic scale. ”

        • Frank

          I think there are many great reasons for reforestation, like flood control, but I worry that a forest does not capture carbon nearly as pemanently as a coal seam. What happens to trees when they decompose, or the temites eat them? Biochar isn’t forever either but it makes the soil fertile, which is cool. I just can’t imagine anything as cheap as leaving coal in the ground.

          I think the US could add 2-3% renewables a year without much difficulty, but of course I am takling about putting a currently legal business out of business. We are already going down that road, just not as fast as I would like.

      • Robert Pollock

        There are new man made materials that react with the CO2 in the atmosphere. In Britain (I forget the name) a company makes concrete blocks that capture CO2. Also newer iterations of Phase Change Materials has the potential to greatly reduce the CO2 produced by buildings in the first place. We need trees and plants more than ever.
        But this guy in India doesn’t get it yet. They’ll pay for that soon enough. This Climate Change business isn’t something he (India) can participate in by choice. We’re out of time. Any effort down the Coal road is backwards.

        • Frank

          Not only is it backwards, but pointless. You don’t even get a short term benefit. Renewables are cheap, and the pollution is a drag on the economy.

    • Yes, and I think the key things he said were with regards to his predictions a year ago for solar prices (which people thought were ridiculous but came true) and now for future prices that absolutely crush coal.

      • Robert Pollock

        For me it’s the independence of solar. I’ve always admired “Off-grid” efforts but until recently, never considered it viable for our circumstances. But now, why not? That’s the beauty of solar plus battery storage, if we can get a system to run seamlessly for ten years or more. Set it and forget it and save ten thousand dollars. Transmission lines only for non residential.

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