Varied interests in the energy and power sector viz., CDM, carbon rating, Monitoring & Evaluation, Energy Management, Rural Development; Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy related matters; Demand Side Management (DSM), Energy Audits, Distributed Power Generation (Biomass, Wind,Solar and Small Hydro), Participatory Management.

Monday, July 26, 2010

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We have only one home – our one planet – and it is in peril!

India joins leading economies in clean energy commitments

Shravya Reddy

Posted July 22, 2010 in Curbing Pollution, Moving Beyond Oil, Solving Global Warming

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On Tuesday I had the opportunity to attend a major event in Washington D.C. – the first ever Clean Energy Ministerial - where India joined a number of countries in making significant commitments on clean energy. India took a leadership role on one of the most promising programs announced yesterday, the Super-efficient Equipment and Appliances Deployment (SEAD) Initiative. Being in a room with over a thousand people including international leaders on climate and energy felt encouraging, since the event saw seventeen of the world's major economies make a public statement about how serious they are about tackling climate change and accelerating clean energy deployment.  

Through SEAD, India and the United States will be co-leaders of a multi-country effort that aims to transform the global appliance market by helping governments improve incentive and labeling programs, strengthen efficiency standards, share best practices with respect to super-efficient appliances, and foster continued gains in efficiency through strategic R&D. SEAD will create global incentive programs focused on lighting, televisions, refrigerators, air conditioners, and electronics and could potentially eliminate the need in India for about 300 mid-sized power plants by 2030. 

SEAD's initial focus will be on televisions and lighting – two globally traded products that together account for about 15 percent of household electricity use. Over time, additional products such as refrigerators will also be considered. SEAD partners will develop advanced market commitments for LED lights that will give solid-state lighting products access to government procurement funds once they meet quality, performance and cost-effectiveness criteria. To accelerate the adoption of strong appliance efficiency policies, SEAD will develop toolkits for policymakers to facilitate stronger measures in countries wishing to employ them, such as a Municipal Advanced Street Lighting Policymaker Toolkit. SEAD partners will also establish the SEAD Global Efficiency Awards to recognize the most efficient appliances sold and under development in global markets. 

The Indian delegation (Deputy Chairperson of India's Planning Commission Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, and Director General of India's Bureau of Energy Efficiency Dr. Ajay Mathur, both of whom are playing a leading role in implementing India's National Action Plan on Climate Change) also signed on to three other programs under the Global Energy Efficiency Challenge.

(1)    Global Superior Energy Performance (GSEP) Partnership: an effort to help large buildings and industrial facilities measure and reduce their energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions over time.

(2)    International Smart Grid Action Network (ISGAN): an effort to promote global development and deployment of smart grid technologies through high-government dialogue, focusing on technologies that have the highest potential to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy.

(3)    Capacity Building for Developing Country Policymakers: A network of Clean Energy Solutions Centers will be set up to help governments of developing countries drive transformational low-carbon technologies. 

By signing onto four of the five initiatives under the Energy Efficiency category, the Indian delegation at the Ministerial sent a strong signal that it understands the quick gains that can accrue from energy efficiency, and is prioritizing its resources in this area. This is also consistent with India's own National Mission on Enhanced Energy Efficiency. Many of us in the room noted that India did not sign on to the fifth element of the energy efficiency challenge – the Electric Vehicles Initiative (EVI). This is understandable, given that access to electricity, power distribution and supply reliability have to be prioritized before a country the size of India embraces electric vehicles. 

It will be interesting to hear from the Indian leadership why India did not sign up to participate in the other initiatives announced at the Ministerial, under the two categories of Clean Energy Supply (creation of a Multilateral Solar and Wind Working Group; a Sustainable Development of Hydropower Initiative; a Bioenergy Working Group; and a Carbon Capture, Use and Storage (CCUS) Action Group) and Clean Energy Access (a Solar and LED Energy Access Program and a Women's Initiative to encourage women to pursue careers in clean energy and lend their innovative power to future clean energy technologies). While the rationale is clearer for some (such as CCS, which is still a relatively unproven technology with very low CO2 abatement for extremely high cost, and thus is not cost-effective for a country like India), it is less obvious for others (such as the projects pertaining to solar and wind energy, given that India is actively ramping up its renewable energy capacity, is already a global leader in renewable energy, and also has an ambitious solar mission as part of it National Action Plan).   

While the announcements about the various initiatives were well received, many of the Ministers and other experts at the event emphasized (such as British Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Chris Huhne and Google Director of Climate Change and Energy Initiatives Dan Reicher) that it was now imperative to actually translate all the commitments into real action, and that member countries should "Just Do It". We hope this will indeed happen. Countries have already lost valuable time in moving from an initial articulation of some of these initiatives (for instance, the SEAD program was first announced under the Climate-REDI program in December 2009 by DoE and also by the White House, and re-launched again this week at the Ministerial, seven months later, with the public announcement containing no reference to what progress, if any, was made over seven months). 

These commitments must be honored, and we hope to see real progress by next year's Ministerial in Abu Dhabi. Time is of the essence, as Secretary Chu himself reminded all those gathered at the event when he noted at the plenary that "we have only one home – our one planet – and it is in peril".

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Gopinath S
Chief Executive
nRG Consulting Services, Bangalore
http://in.linkedin.com/in/gopimysore
http://nrgcs.blogspot.com/
+91 99161 29728

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