Union Minister of New and Renewable Energy, Farooq Abdullah on Thursday strongly pitched for India taking up development of nuclear energy for civilian use till the country was able to develop full potential of the renewable energy resources.

“India is moving forward and it needs energy. We have 1.2 billion people and 40 per cent of our people don't have access to energy. Therefore, please forgive us. We have to use nuclear energy till renewable energy comes up to such a level that we are able to dispense with fossil fuels and nuclear energy,” Dr. Abdullah said during the inaugural session of Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 2014.

Dr. Abdullah’s assertion comes at a time when the anti-nuclear lobby has been protesting against setting up nuclear plants in various parts of the country.

Pitching for renewable energy, The MNRE Minister said the huge sum spent on gaining fossil fuels for the country's energy needs could be used for providing better drinking water, education and hospitals. “India spends 80 per cent on importing fossil fuels. The money could be used for making available drinking water, better roads, better hospitals and education. Here is a challenge for all us. Let us work together for improving renewable energy,” he added.

He said his Ministry had in 2010 started the Jawaharlal Nehru Solar Mission and hoped to generate 30,000 MW of power through solar energy by 2017. “The Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh wanted us to develop 1 lakh MW of power from solar energy by 2017. We looked at it in my department and we thought it was not possible. So we changed the date to 2027,” he said.

He said steps were already afoot to develop energy through wind and biomass besides looking at offshore energy resources. “In wind power, we are number five in the world. We are now going offshore. There are nations who have great expertise. We will call on them to help us in developing this energy. Similarly, we are developing biomass,” he said.

The three-day summit will see participation of eminent speakers including former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and a host of diplomats, Ministers and ex-Ministers from various countries.