The country has much to gain by joining hands with Germany in expanding the renewable energy sector.
The world's largest solar photovoltaic plant will start delivering up to 125 megawatt (MW) of clean, sustainable solar energy in Maharashtra in March 2012. Germany is proud to play a role in this important project by supporting the financial investment. Only recently, Germany's state-owned KfW Development Bank and India's Ministry of Finance signed a reduced-interest loan of €250 million for the construction of this solar plant at Shivajinagar, Sakri.
This is just one example of the flourishing Indo-German partnership in the energy sector, aiming to strengthen energy efficiency and the use of renewable energies. The objective is to develop an Indian energy system that is sustainable not only in economic but also in ecological terms.
Energy is a priority issue for India. Currently, the power situation in India is one of the major bottlenecks in its growth story. Even though India's total installed power capacity rose to 170 gigawatt (GW) by December 2010, the challenges lying ahead are critical. About 400 million people are still without a power connection. According to a rough estimate, the total demand for electricity in India is expected to cross 950 GW by 2030.
This is a huge challenge, especially against the backdrop of climate change. In absolute terms, India has already become one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world. Between 1994 and 2007 its annual greenhouse gas emissions increased by 58 per cent as an effect of rapid economic growth, higher industrial activity and consequent increase in energy production, consumption and transportation.
However, throughout its history, India has shown that it is able to deal with challenging situations. Likewise, one can sense a strong political will in India today to reduce the ecological costs of economic growth; for e.g., by employing a low-carbon strategy. Important steps in this direction have already been taken. In June 2008, India launched the National Action Plan for Climate Change (NAPCC), which envisions creating a self-sustaining economy. Under the NAPCC, India has outlined present and future policies to control the growth of emissions in eight different sectors. In the framework of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, it has set an ambitious goal of achieving 20 GW of solar capacity by 2022.
India offers a conducive atmosphere for the growth and application of renewable energies. When utilised in the right manner and with the right technology, India can become a world leader in the field of renewable energy. For example, most parts of India have 300 to 330 sunny days in a year, which is equivalent to over 5,000 trillion kilowatt hour (kWh) per year — much more than India's total energy consumption per year.
India is also endowed with a large, viable and economically exploitable wind power potential. By June 2009, a wind power capacity of 10,386 MW had been established in India, making it the fifth largest wind power producer in the world. India's hydro power potential is estimated to be 150,000 MW, the current installed capacity being 35,000 MW. Thus there are many opportunities and Germany is happy to be one of India's main partners in harnessing renewable energies and moving towards a greener future.
Our expertise and technological edge can help India tap its vast resources efficiently and competitively. Consider this: Germany is a world leader in renewable energy. Currently, Germany produces 17 per cent of its electricity by using renewable resources. Out of its total production of 600 billion kWh in 2010, wind turbines, hydroelectric plants, solar cells and biogas digesters together contributed 100 billion kWh and this is set to grow. With our new energy policy in place, we are looking at achieving 35 per cent production from renewable energies by 2020, expanding this sector even further.
Some of Germany's companies with interest in renewables have already made their way to India or are taking this step. Largest among them is perhaps Siemens, which is planning the production of 2.3-MW wind turbines in Gujarat by 2013. Also among them is Juwi, a well-known German developer, who set up shop in Bangalore in 2010 to serve the Indian market in developing solar power plants. Also, the world's largest solar fair — the Intersolar fair in Munich — already has an Indian sister, the yearly Intersolar India, which will be held for the third time this December in Mumbai.
Given India's needs and Germany's expertise, it is then no surprise that energy is a top priority in Indo-German economic cooperation. In 2010 the German government committed about €330 million exclusively for energy efficiency and renewables.
To give just a few examples of our ongoing cooperation — We promote investments in renewable energy by providing sustainable financing through the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA). Through KfW, we have committed credit lines to primarily finance project types that are relatively new in India in terms of technology, institutional set-up or financing structure. In Anta, Rajasthan, we are involved in financing a 15-MW concentrated solar thermal power station in collaboration with the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC).
As important as our financial cooperation is the technical cooperation (TC) through our implementing agency, GIZ. As a special component under the Indo-German Energy Programme (IGEN), a coordination office with German and Indian experts has been set up on the premises of India's Ministry of New and Renewable Energy in New Delhi to foster TC activities in renewable energy.
Over and above this, there are a number of other projects addressing various issues in the field of renewable energy. For example, the GIZ project ‘Solar Mapping and Monitoring' aims at mapping India's potential for solar power generation with precise on-the-ground-data, rather than the rough satellite data available so far, and thus further the production of renewable energies. Through COMSolar (Commercialisation of solar energy), we are focusing on developing partnerships with private companies in order to promote commercialisation of solar energy in the urban and industrial sectors. The project implementation partner, GIZ, also organises training programmes, including seminars, study trips and special courses for capacity building and enhancing local expertise in the relevant field.
Since 2009, Germany and India have been organising a ‘Carbon Bazaar' every year. This event provides a platform for entrepreneurs to establish direct contact with various stakeholders in the energy sector, with the sole purpose of reducing the carbon footprint of economic activities.
Last but not the least, the Indo-German Energy Forum, established by Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2006, focuses on promoting cooperation in energy security, energy efficiency, renewable energy, investment in energy projects, and collaborative research and development in the energy sector. This has proved to be an important tool in our bilateral relationship.
Germany considers India a key partner. A combination of India's positive outlook on renewable energy and Germany's expertise and technology will help us in achieving a sustainable, climate friendly energy mix of the future.
(Thomas Matussek is Germany's Ambassador to India.)