India has sought Israel's expertise
in renewable energy sector to meet its ambitious target of
30,000 megawatts of power in the next five years.
"India is a very vast country and like all vast countries has very vast problems. Energy is one of the most crucial issues which we feel can do wonders to our growth. When you look at the fact that 40 per cent of the population in India doesn't have access to energy, we think it is a situation we need to immediately correct," said Gireesh Pradhan, the Secretary of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.
Quoting from one of the recent statements made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in setting up the goal of providing access to energy to all at the earliest, Pradhan said, "I look up at renewable energy as of great importance".
"We feel that the rapid spread and promotion of renewable energy would address to some extent the issue of access. The Government of India has identified generation of power through renewable energy at the forefront of its planning strategy," Pradhan, who is on a two-day visit to Israel, told an impressive gathering of business leaders at the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce.
He also noted the fact that India is the only country in the world that has a full-fledged ministry devoted to renewable energy headed by a cabinet minister while most of the countries only have a department for renewables embedded in their conventional power sector.
Sharing some of the broad contours of the energy scenario in India, Pradhan highlighted the fact that almost 12 per cent of the energy generated in India comes from renewable sources comprising small hydro, bio-mass, wind and a little bit of solar.
If the share of electricity produced from large Hydro is included in this then the total share of renewables in the overall energy mix will come to about 31 per cent, he stressed.
Calling upon Israeli business leaders to join hands in the growth of renewable energy sector in India, the senior official said India has set up an ambitious plan to generate another 30,000 MWs of grid connected projects by 2017, which will "take us to a total of 55,000 MWs from renewable sources of energy".
"This would require a lot of partnering and assistance and help from the private sector. The important difference in India in terms of conventional power and renewable power is that on the conventional side the lead player is the government or the public sector whereas on the renewable side it is completely private sector.
We owe the 25,000 we have completely to the private sector and we intend to push this further in the next five years to promote investments from the private sector," Pradhan stressed.
"In that context we look at partnering with countries such as Israel. Israel is special because of its ability to
innovate under very trying circumstances. Something that is
very well proven in Israel. The constraints your country has
faced and the ability to deal with those constraints through
out of the box innovative solutions is well known," he noted.
"Those solutions will find very good application in a country like India, which is vast and has diverse meteorological conditions, has scarcity in terms of resources like water, etc, and also on the other hand blessed with very many natural resources," the secretary added.
The announcement by the Indian officials regarding Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) Phase II was welcomed by those gathered in the hall with excitement with several showing interest in participating in the process.
Ashwini Kumar, scientist at MNRE, in a presentation told the Israeli business leaders that India will add 10,000 MWs of solar capacity in the next phase of JNNSM by 2017.
"The Sun shines for more than 310 days a year in India. We also have vast tracts of land available in some big states that cannot be used for any other productive use.
Collaboration with Israel will definitely be helpful in meeting our immediate goal of providing access to energy to all and at the same time laying a solid foundation for the future," Pradhan said.
Representatives of many leading renewable companies in Israel enquired about various government of India initiatives during a round table conference.
Vani Rao, Charge de Affaires, at the Indian mission in Tel Aviv assured of all assistance in helping Israeli businesses looking to participate in the Indian renewable energy sector.
"We are celebrating 20 years of diplomatic relations between India and Israel. Among many areas of collaboration that we have identified, renewable happens to be one. In Secretary MNRE we have the highest official from the government present here to give you a perspective on the developments in India in this sector," she said.
Representatives from Israel's Ministry of Trade and Industry also expressed interest in "deepening trade ties with India" while the Free Trade Agreement between the two countries is being worked out.
Yifat Inbar, Director, China-India Division at the Ministry noted Israel was able to survive the global recession because it strengthened its engagement with Asia, and in particular with India.
She also mentioned about financial assistance being provided by the Israeli government to deepen trade ties with India.
The three member Indian team, also including Sanjay Seth from the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, had several interactions with Israeli officials and business leaders in the renewable energy sector for an overview on developments in the country in this sector.