Tuesday, 1 May 2018

SDG7 for India’s Energy Security, Poverty Alleviation & Sustainable Development

Access to affordable and clean energy - the seventh sustainable development goal (SDG7) is central to enhancing the growth of developing nations in general and India in particular. 

Having renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind and small hydroelectric (hydel) as well as biogas, power the nation instead of fossil fuels can help avoid the environmental Kuznets curve (EKC) hypothesis. According to EKC theory, as per capita income first increases there is proportional detrimental effect on the environment. This makes for unsustainable development. Decoupling growth from fossil fuels, enhancing clean energy generation and cheap power for all can fillip to India’s developmental agenda and ensure energy security free from crude oil price and supply fluctuations. India like most developing nations has poverty alleviation by raising the per capita income of those below poverty line (BPL) as a key mandate. India according to the World Bank has the most number of people living BPL. That's 30 percent of the Indian population – approximately 276 million people! Improving the quality of life of this huge population will have a grave impact on the nation's and the world's environment and resource consumption. This can be averted by leapfrogging to powering the growth with clean energy.

 The low-carbon growth model prioritizing clean and affordable energy access, although requiring a huge initial investment, can yield phenomenal results. Energy security, poverty alleviation as well as sustainable development can become the norm in India's growth story when clean and cheap energy empowers the population. Energy security is a very important issue. The aggravating effect of fossil fuels on climate change and global warming makes them a poor choice to fuel growth in India and beyond. Coal that powers thermal power stations – the mainstay of India’s electricity grid – causes severe air, water and soil pollution in addition to taking a huge bite out of the limited carbon budget of an ever-heating world. With the soaring crude oil prices, oil’s exponential effect on global warming and the worrying trend of a significant portion of oil money funding terror – it’s wrong on multiple fronts to continue to couple our growth story with the use of fossil fuels. Gas extraction for LPG and LNG ( (liquefied petroleum/natural gas) cylinders routinely devastate the local environs yet ensure smoke- and air pollution–free cooking fuel and an affordable and greener choice of vehicle fuel. By promoting small and large-scale biogas and “Gobbar” [cow patties] gas plants families and communities can benefit from clean cooking fuel as well as generating a rich organic manure as byproduct. LNG cylinders filled in industrial-sized “washed biogas” plants with adequate safety regulations are less ecologically damaging than oil and gas extraction from the soil and river beds.

 Making the Indian power grid compatible with renewable energy supply by investing in optimal energy storage and smart grids can drastically improve India’s carbon footprint and clean up the environment.  India’s abundant solar and wind power generating capacity not to mention the potential of offshore hybrid renewable power generating installations – harnessing tidal, wave, offshore wind and solar energy – can easily offset the Indian power grid’s coal needs.
PM Modi said on Sunday that April 28 will be remembered as a historic day when a remote village in the northeast became the last to be connected to the power grid.
 Despite Power Ministry Officials putting this figure at 83% households electrified - with 15 % of this through battery based off-grid solutions and the rest on grid-connected - the environmental and health implications of such a demand if still powered mostly by thermal power is mind-boggling.
  Source: (c) The Hindu

With the World Health Organization stating that over 90 percent of the world’s population breathes polluted air, the health premium of fuels that cause air pollution skyrockets. Some of the most polluted cities in the world are in India and combined with the huge BPL population – who are most vulnerable to pollution – India is on the brink of a major health crisis. Poor indoor and outdoor air quality are claiming lives and causing morbidity. The healthcare costs and the lost man-hours adds to the “cost of pollution” - devastating the efficiency of health & safety of the laboring classes especially (a barriers to truly honoring the values enshrined in observing May Day). Hence clean energy access in India can ensure that that the nation’s growth is a healthy and sustainable one. There are many individuals and organizations that are pioneering and piloting adoption of clean energy and low-carbon growth models. These successful pilots need to be scaled up and replicated nationwide to power a clean energy revolution to power India's epic growth story.

Source: (c) Greenpeace India - Chennai #GoSolar event, Earth Day 2018

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