A century back, on 9th January, Mahatma Gandhi made his determined journey to India with a singular goal to ‘Make in India’. He wanted to make here in India a movement of freedom from foreign oppression, discrimination, and social apartheid. Capital needed for making it in India was in the form of bold assets of non-violence and civil disobedience.
On Independence Day of 2014, during the first ever-extempore speech by any Indian Prime Minister delivered from ramparts of the historic Red Fort of New Delhi, Narendra Modi launched equally historic and rousing campaign called ‘Make in India’. His venture capital in launching this movement is in the form of India’s unique demographic dividend i.e. youth that constitutes 65 percent of its population. India’s innovative technological prowess and managerially brave ‘jugaad’ (low-cost improvisation and creation of successful business models) aptitude is already enabling India in competing in the world market.
The timing of the launch of ‘ Make in India’ campaign is the most promising and opportune. The last time India arrived on the world scene with its technological supremacy was in late 1990s when software engineering crews of India created their back-office hives to help digitally managed businesses of the West. That was ‘ Make from India’ campaign! Those hives and their verticals and scale-ups are now over-dripping into national treasury a stream of honey of USD 125 billion of which exports are nearing USD 100 billion. Role of Indian diaspora in India’s transformation into ‘digital world ’ had been crucial. Their vast networks with corporate houses, their elite image, well groomed expertize and their financial muscle power helped Indian companies to make inroads in USA and European markets.
Once again India has unique opportunity, this time for yet another transformation. India reminded the world of its ‘brain-power’ by taking lead in resolving Y2K bug at the dawn of this millennium. We now can remind the world of our belief in ‘nature-power’ to address defining challenge of this century i.e. climate change. By turning the mission ‘Make in India’ into ‘Make in India with Green Power’ we can create win-win situation. The role of diaspora in moving forward with sustainable development by use of renewable energy will again be crucial.
The renewable energy revolution is literally round the corner. For last more than 5 years renewable energy has been part of amazing story all over the world. It is the only energy sector where investment and installed capacity have consistently grown with surprisingly steep rate even during the global financial crisis that began in 2008 and still casting gloom. From 2008, to 2013, as per United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), electricity produced from solar PV cells has grown with average rate of roaring 39 percent. In 2014, the wave continues. Investment in clean energy is USD 275 billion, at least 10% better than in 2013. Whooping 44 GW of Solar PV added in installed capacity world wide in 2014 is 10% more that in 2013.
Nearly 50 GW of wind turbines have been installed, up from 32 GW added in 2013. Sales of electric vehicles have increased by 50%. The Chief of the International Agency of Energy has shown that solar energy could become the first source of electricity in the world before 2050, and going by its report, the World Energy Outlook 2014, renewables sources should in 2040 dethrone coal as a primary source of electricity, the cost and variability in availability of solar and wind energy is no longer considered as insurmountable obstacle.
Decoupling the fossil fuel based energy generation from the present growth model would bring inclusive, fair, equitable and the sustainable growth that recognizes the value of ecosystems and respect for the Sun and Mother Earth. That indeed was the foundation on which our ancient Vedic science and technologies were built on. Labeling the products ‘Made in India with Green Power’ would once again demonstrate India’s scientific legacy that values the ecosystems. Indians can create unique model for addressing freedom from poverty, inequality, and impacts of climate change.
Will use of green energy, generated from renewable energy, be really sufficient enough for ‘Make in India’ campaign? Abundant availability of solar and wind energy coupled with India’s proven soft power is poised to ensure that it green energy is not a dream faraway.
Ability of communities in India to take bold initiatives has not been fully harnessed. Communities of residents, farmers, self-help groups SMEs, corporate houses can come together to build the solar PV electricity generation plants on the roof-tops of every building, on the arid land around villages, unused land of farmers, on the long routes of irrigation water canals (as is done in Gujarat), on the railway and bus stations, on the factory shades, corporate houses, government buildings and even parking places. These micro-power plants could then be ‘wired’ to develop the community grids –energy Internet- that would provide electricity for the self-use and sell surplus to the grid for commercial purposes
Deploying an affordable and efficient ‘electricity storage’ technology to enable stocking of electricity can resolve the problem related to cloudy days when solar energy is inadequate and quiet days when wind energy is not generated. Such storages could be based on present technology of modern storages using Nano-technologies or storing hydrogen produced by water electrolysis using solar energy. When millions of buildings are generating a small amounts of electricity locally, on-site, they can sell surplus back into the grid, and share electricity with their neighboring communities.
Is it utopian road map? Jeremy Rifkin, political scientist and technology forecaster who is promoter lateral energy-network concept is already assisting Germany to implement similar plans. 20 million Germans (25 percent of Germany’s population) have chosen to be off-grid and generating their own electricity. Half of the electricity in Germany, a country known for its cloudy weather, is by solar energy. Nearly 10,000 farms in USA also harvest renewable energy along with maze and wheat in their farms. They use renewable energy for their own agricultural operations and extra electricity is sold in ‘grid-market’ to earn money from energy-harvest!
Many of the 25 million-diaspora spread in 180 countries have potential to contribute to ‘ make in India with green power’ campaign-by providing their expertise. Venture capitalists like Vinod Khosla and Kanwar Rekhi could promote manufacture of efficient solar cells and storage technology, software giants like Satya Nadella and Sabeer Bhatia could develop the energy-internet, Finance experts like Vikram Pandit could provide financial road map. The last diaspora driven transformation was seen when European diaspora in America helped Europe to rise from ashes after World War II. India has chance to be the first in using diaspora’s potential to fight global war against the climate change through energy-Internet. END
By Rajendra Shende, IIT Alumnus, Chairman of TERRE Policy Centre and former Director UNEP