PM pitches for subsidies for clean energy

PM pitches for subsidies for clean energy New Delhi: Hitting out at rich nations for bulk of greenhouse gas emissions, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday pitched for subsidies for clean energy saying market forces alone would not be able to finance it.

Singh also voiced concern over "painfully slow" progress in climate talks and said the goal of stabilising global temperatures was "nowhere in sight". He urged individual countries to take action to increase energy efficiency.

The Prime Minister was speaking at the Fourth Clean Energy Ministerial, co-chaired by Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and US Energy Secretary Steven Chu and attended by Energy Ministers of 20 leading economies.

Highlighting critical issues in promoting expansion of green energy, Singh said investments in the sector were subject to technological, commercial and regulatory risk.

"For the moment green energy is not viable on its own without subsidy or regulatory incentives. Investors obviously need assurance that these incentives will continue," he said.

Singh said market forces alone will not provide sufficient financing in this environment unless the risks of policy change were appropriately addressed.

The pace of reliance on new energy sources was constrained by the fact that they were more expensive than conventional energy, he said.

The costs of solar energy had nearly halved over the last two years, but was still higher than the cost of fossil fuel based electricity, he said.

Singh also made it clear that rich nations, who were responsible for a bulk of greenhouse gas emissions, were best placed to provide workable solutions to mitigate climate change.

Singh said industrialised nations also have high per capita incomes which gave them the highest capacity to bear the burden.

"They are technically most advanced, and to that extent best placed to provide workable solutions not only for themselves but for the whole world," he said.

Singh said issues of financing mitigation actions to tackle climate change have been a focus of intense discussion in negotiations under the auspices of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

"Unfortunately, progress in these negotiations is painfully slow. The goal of stabilising global temperatures at acceptable levels is nowhere in sight," he said.

Singh said while it must be ensured that the UNFCCC process reaches some acceptable outcome, individual countries have to take action to increase energy efficiency and also to promote clean energy.

He said India was taking steps to exploit non-conventional clean energy sources like solar and wind power and has proposed to double renewable energy capacity in the country from 25,000 MW in 2012 to 55,000 MW by 2017.

Singh said India was keen to ensure induction of the best technology and also to encourage domestic production of the equipment needed for adding solar capacity.

Noting that India was potentially a large market for production of such equipment, he urged global manufacturers to set up production facilities in the country in this area.

Singh said India was also re-assessing its wind potential in both onshore and offshore areas to draw a long term plan for exploiting this source of energy.

PTI