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Keen to tap renewable sources to bridge energy deficit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today called for innovation and research to make solar and wind power affordable, even as companies like NTPC, Suzlon and Reliance Power pledged mega investments in such areas.
He also said India is working on building a consortium of 50 countries with abundant solar radiation, to pool research and technological advancements to improve its accessibility to the poor and in the remote areas.
Inaugurating the first Renewable Energy Global Investors Meet ( RE-Invest), Modi also talked about "seven horses of energy" and said the country has so far focused on thermal, gas, hydro and nuclear power and efforts should now shift to solar, wind and biogas.
Way back in 2007, Modi as the then Gujarat Chief Minister had said that the state would "ride the chariot of energy which will be pulled by seven horses".
On the first day of the three-day event, as many as 293 companies today committed to set up plants to generate 266 GW of renewable energy in 5 years, while banking major SBI said it will finance 15000 MW renewable energy in five years.
Describing India's thrust towards renewable energy production as an effort to ensure universal energy access for India's poor, Modi said India has graduated from megawatts to gigawatts in terms of renewable energy production.
"The fruits of development will not reach the common man until energy reaches last household of the country," he said. "In this age of globalization, we have no option but to make a quantum leap in energy production and connectivity."
He suggested setting up of hybrid energy parks in areas with abundant sun radiation as well as wind potential to save on transmission and power evacuation infrastructure cost.
The Prime Minister also called for developing domestic manufacturing of renewable energy equipment to create jobs.
Suzlon and Welspun committed to set up 11,000 MW each, while NTPC and Hindustan Power Projects pledged to generate 10,000 MW of power each from green sources. Renew Power outlined plans for 11,500 MW and Sun Edison for 15,000 MW. Gamesa committed to setting up 7,500 MW of renewable plants. Anil Ambani-led Reliance Power committed 6000 MW.
Minister of State for Power, Coal and New and Renewable Energy, Piyush Goyal said India will become 'renewable energy capital of the world.
Modi suggested installing solar panels over all water bodies as well as using them to power irrigation pumps, while solar photo-voltaic cells can be used on roof-tops. Goyal said this innovative idea was used in Gujarat during Modi's stint as Chief Minister there.
Conserving energy, Modi said, is the need of the hour. "The more energy we save, the more we can save the next generations. Energy can be saviour of generations."
He said the cost of electricity from solar photo-voltaic cells has come down from Rs 20 per unit to Rs 7.50 and research and innovation can help bring it down further.
In the rural areas, he stressed on the need for solar pumps to reduce input costs for farmers. Farmers can then use micro-irrigation to conserve water and enhance crop yield.
He called for sustained technological research in renewable energy; and a thrust on domestic equipment manufacturing for renewable energy as part of the "Make in India" initiative.
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