Renewable energy, health care, drug discovery and nanotechnologies will be among thrust areas of cooperation in science and technology between India and Russia under a new bilateral programme for 2010-2020.
The new programme to be signed next year will be a renewal of the Integrated Long-Term Programme (ILTP) of Cooperation in Science & Technology that the two countries first signed in 1987. Over the past 20 years more than 500 projects have been successfully accomplished under the ILTP title and another 80 projects are in the pipeline, said C.N.R. Rao, who is in Russia to co-chair the 16th session of the ILTP Joint Council.
He hopes cooperation with Russia will give India technologies to tap solar energy in a big way.
“Solar energy is the key to meeting India’s fast growing energy needs 30 years from now,” Prof. C.N.R. Rao told Indian media based in Moscow.
“We must dramatically bring down the cost of solar energy to parity levels with fossil fuels.”
As a first step, India and Russia plan to set up a joint venture for large-scale production of silicon wafers in Russia using abundant hydropower in Siberia, which is substantially cheaper than electricity generated in India. This is a third time in a decade that India plans to tie up with Russia for silicon production.
Earlier, officials say, India could not spare at least $200 million to invest in the project and did not feel such urgency for alternative energy.
“We have already tested Russian 170-micron silicon plates and signed an agreement for the monthly supply of half a million such wafers,” said Prof. Samir K. Brahmachari, Secretary-General, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
India also hopes to source from Russia new non-silicon technologies for utilising solar energy.
Under an MoU with Russia’s Ioffe Physics Institute, the CSIR will test in its laboratories prototype photo-material developed by Russian scientists, Prof. Brahmachari said.
He is also looking to Russia to help India provide affordable health care to the poor. Two teams of young Russian scientists have joined the CSIR’s open source drug discovery initiative to produce cheap drugs to cure tuberculosis.
In another major development, the Department of Atomic Energy is negotiating for India to become a member of the international Dubna Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, a top-notch Russian nuclear centre, Prof. C.N.R. Rao said.
India already has a cooperation agreement with the Kurchatov Institute, another Russian nodal centre for nuclear research.