Recently, Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, very aptly quoted the Poet Mirza Ghalib "Hazaaron khwaishein aisi, ke har khwaish pe dum nikle. Bohot nikle mere armaan, fir bhi kam nikle," Meaning, thousands of dreams, each that take my breath away, each that are worth dying for; I have realized many dreams but that's not enough, I yearn for more...
Ghalib was an inspiration for technological innovation to the CEO of a tech giant and is equally inspiring for those of us who value clean energy and sustainable development. Today, to mark the World Environment Day, #WED2016, I will briefly talk about 3 dreams that take my breath away; dreams that, I consider, are worth dying for.
1. The first one, 'Make in India' for Solar value chain in the medium term but 'R&D and Innovation in India' for Clean Energy in the long term
- With a 100GW target, 80% import dependency for solar power projects is unacceptable. We need lateral transfer of technologies & grow like Korea & China
- International Solar Alliance by PM Modi and President Hollande is a great move
- We need things like Breakthrough Energy Coalition by Bill Gates to Fast Forward innovation
- Bill Gates said it is absurd to spend $70bn on defence R&D, $31bn on medical R&D and only $5bn on energy
- India spends less than 1% of its GDP on R&D compared to 4% by Finland and Israel
- India has only 1000 scientists per million of its population compared to 6000 scientists per million by Finland, USA,
2. The second dream is about the target set recently for 100% electric vehicles by 2030 but going beyond that to Reimagine urban mobility itself in the context of "Smart Cities"
- 80% of our oil for transport is imported, needing 50% of our forex earnings
- It's fantastic that an Inter-ministerial group has been formed, with the four Ministers responsible for Surface Transport, Environment, Coal, Petroleum and Power and Renewable Energy to achieve the target of 100% EVs by 2030. Netherlands has set same target by 2025.
- We need to reimagine and design urban mobility to encourage walking and bicycling i.e active mobility to promote good health. We need footpaths and bicycle tracks as much as flyovers and metros.
3. Lastly, I dream about solar pumping but with an holistic approach to water harvesting, recharging ground water, solar pumping, horticulture, drip irrigation & agri livelihoods contributing to the PM's goal of doubling of farmers' incomes
- PM Krishi Sinchayee Yojana which allocated INR 500,000 million over next five years for irrigation and water harvesting and conservation
- Soil Health Card is another great innovation like Aadhar card
- Krishi Kalyan cess, which will help mop up INR 80,000 million per year, if directed properly, should help achieve Prime Minister's goal by 2022,
It seems to be great time to work on clean energy and sustainable development where there is terrific alignment between the ideas that are worth dying for and the Indian government's policy and its long term audacious goals.
All these years, our approach towards development, the world over, has been technology and product centric. Providing electricity for economic development, increasing per capita energy consumption to grow GDP, Energy Access etc. This year's theme for #WED2016, "Join the race to make the world a better place" sets the tone for "Citizen Centric" solutions such as "Smart Mobility" and the pitch for "Agri Livelihoods – doubling of farmers' income" rather than just providing solar pumps and subsidized fertilizers.
I dream to see these type of 'citizen centric' solutions that go very well with today's theme at Chevening Alumni India conference on "Environment enabling economic growth – The right approach".
With best wishes and warm greetings on the World Environment Day, 2016
Satya Kumar DV