BHUBANESWAR: While access to energy is crucial for economic development, the challenge before every nation is to meet the energy demand of people at an affordable cost, said Prof Michael Greenstone from University of Chicago.
Speaking on ‘Energy security and innovative solutions to environmental challenges’ at the eighth session of Odisha Knowledge Hub (OKH) Lecture series here, Greenstone said there is a great variation in energy access and consumption pattern in various parts of the world.
While the per capita consumption of energy in USA is around 13,000 kilo watt hour (kWh), in many parts of Europe and Germany, it is around 5000 to 7000 kWh per annum.
On the other hand, there are countries like India with lower energy consumption. Even China’s per capita consumption (2700 kWh) is much higher than India (1400 kWh), he said.
In Odisha, he said, electricity access and consumption is comparatively better than many other Indian States. The per capita electricity consumption in Odisha is around 1200 kWh.
Acknowledging the fact that energy access is a major problem in many parts of the globe, Greenstone, who is now Director of Energy Policy Institute at Chicago (EPIC), said climate change due to excess burning of fossil fuel is another area of concern.
While emphasising on the need for universal access to energy, Greenstone said efforts should be made to generate more clean energy at an affordable cost.
He offered three solutions to achieve energy security while causing less damage to the environment. He suggested that conventional energy should be priced taking into consideration its full social cost and there should be more investment in innovations, research and development activities. An effective policy tool should be put in place through collaborative efforts among universities and Government departments.
He also emphasised on better pollution audit and research policy partnership.
“There is a large scope for collaboration between Government of Odisha and University of Chicago. The State Government has taken the right step in initiating the process through methods of knowledge sharing. We will work together in future, specially in areas of energy and environment challenges,” Greenstone told reporters.
Development Commissioner R Balakrishnan said, “We invited the professor to listen from him about the future of fossil fuel and how they collaborate with various State Governments for addressing the challenges of energy and environment.”