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Indian lawmaker group calls for boosting renewable electricity

Jan. 28, 2014 at 12:32 PM   |   Comments

NEW DELHI, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- India has 7.5 million households without access to electricity, a new report by a group of Indian lawmakers says.

The report, submitted Monday to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by the lawmakers, known as the Climate Parliament Group of MPs, notes that per capita electricity consumption in the country's rural households was 8 units per month compared to 24 units in urban households.

"The reason for such low level of consumption is not low demand, but poor access to energy. In spite of a number of programs and schemes for rural electrification, India has one of the lowest levels of access to modern energy," Press Trust of India quotes the report, "RE-Energising India: Policy, Regulatory and Financial Initiatives to Augment Renewable Energy Deployment in India," as saying.

Noting the Indian government in 2001-02 had pledged to provide "electricity for all by 2012," a target that was later deferred to 2017, the Climate Parliament Group called for the government to establish a National Energy Access Mission to provide "modern and clean energy to all" in sufficient amounts at affordable prices.

The group proposed setting a target of 10 years for the mission to achieve universal energy access.

In 2011, coal accounted for 57 percent of India's installed power capacity, the U.S. Energy Information Administration says.

The RE-Energising India report says given the current growth rate of 5 percent in domestic coal production, the country's extractable coal resources would be exhausted in about 45 years.

They called for a Renewable Energy Act to make provisions for off-grid applications such as solar heating and cooling as well as renewable energy in transport, the promotion of bio-energy and bio-fuels and rural electrification.

In a speech last April to the Clean Energy Ministerial, a global group, Prime Minister Singh said India had developed plans to double its renewable energy capacity from 25,000 megawatts in 2012 to 55,000 mw by 2017.

A World Bank report released in December cites India's Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, which began in 2010, as having the potential to position India as a global leader in the development of solar power.

More than 1 gigawatt of grid-connected power was installed in India last year, bringing the cumulative total to 2.18 gw.

In previous meetings with the Indian prime minister and finance minister, the Climate Parliament Group has called for encouraging private sector investment to boost the transmission infrastructure for renewable energy and establishing a "partial risk guarantee fund" for renewable energy projects.

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