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India can become major global hub for renewable energy, envoy says

Written by Nikkei Asia Published on   3 mins read

The Ambassador to France calls on the IEA to expand its presence in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

India can “greatly accelerate” the global transition to cleaner power if its request to join the International Energy Agency is approved, Jawed Ashraf, the country’s ambassador to France, told Nikkei.

Ashraf said India can use its massive workforce and investment-friendly environment to become a key part of the supply chain for components like solar panels, batteries and wind turbines.

Although IEA membership is currently limited to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development members—a criteria India does not meet—the energy agency needs to reach beyond its traditional members and support the Global South, the ambassador said. The agency and India said this week they will begin membership talks.

The following excerpts are from the interview and have been edited.

Nikkei: How did India come to apply for membership?

Jawed Ashraf (JA): We have been working very closely on energy transition and energy security with the IEA, and we rely quite a bit on their expertise and experience. We signed our first partnership agreement in 1998. In 2017 we became an association country, in 2021, we signed a strategic partnership agreement.

India has an important role to play in the global energy balance and global energy transition. Global energy future will also have a profound impact on us. In addition, the IEA was a very strong partner during India’s presidency of the Group of 20 last year.

Taking all this into account, we decided that if India became an IEA member it would be mutually beneficial. Last October, our foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar formally wrote to the executive director of IEA, Fatih Birol, to apply for membership.

Nikkei: How can India contribute to global climate action?

JA: We can greatly accelerate the global energy transition. India is the world’s third largest producer of electricity. Non-fossil fuel now accounts for 43% of the country’s total power generation capacity, and we are adding much more renewable than fossil fuel energy capacity.

India can also be a major hub for the supply chain of renewable energy. Its human resources and its investment-friendly environment make it an ideal manufacturing base for components such as solar panels, batteries and wind turbines. The development of small modular reactors is also underway. We have also introduced several incentives for clean energy.

The world needs more production capacity for renewable energy if global energy transition is to proceed. It is also important that they are affordable for countries that do not have the same financial resources as their developed peers.

We are also contributing to energy transition in other countries. Last year, as president of the G20, we put together very ambitious clean energy targets. Almost 100 countries have joined the International Solar Alliance as members, an alliance that India created in 2015. We are also undertaking several clean energy projects in other developing countries.

Nikkei: Under the current IEA rules, a country applying for membership must also be a member of the OECD. What are your thoughts on this?

JA: The IEA certainly needs to expand. Today, non-OECD countries are bigger consumers of energy than OECD countries. If the IEA is to play a truly global role and promote action to achieve climate targets, it should reach beyond OECD members and support countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

This article first appeared on Nikkei Asia. It has been republished here as part of 36Kr’s ongoing partnership with Nikkei.


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