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The green energy market

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Reviewing the book “The Politics of Climate Change and the Global Crisis: Mortgaging Our Future” by Praful Bidwai in the Deccan Chronicle, Vandana Shiva writes about what makes it unique:

Firstly, it combines rigorous details of the climate crisis and international negotiations with robust arguments for climate justice and ecological democracy (which I call Earth Democracy). Secondly, it is the only book about India’s climate policy from a people’s perspective. As he writes “The climate crisis confronts India with many questions and some tough choices. India is emerging as a major power despite the persistence of mass deprivation and poverty at home. Yet, there is no genuine domestic debate on law and to what ends India should deploy its growing power. How can it be used to make the world better — less unequal and unjust from being conflict prone and violent? How can India combine the long overdue domestic task of fighting poverty with promoting global justice? In what ways can India contribute to the climate stabilisation and developmental equity agendas?”

India can have a carbon-free, nuclear-free future based on renewables. Renewable energy can provide more than 3,000 times the world’s current energy needs. As Bidwai concludes in the chapter titled, “The renewable revolutions is here”, “Policymakers everywhere need to develop moral and political clarity about the world’s renewable energy-based future and its inseparable links both with equity and combating climate change”.

Are these the pipe dreams of idealists? Apparently not, if you go by this hard-nosed report from the Guardian:

India’s transformation into a cleantech powerhouse moved up a gear in 2011 when it racked up investments of $10.3bn in the sector, a growth rate of 52 per cent year on year that dwarfed the rest of the world’s significant economies.

Solar investments led the growth with a seven-fold increase in funding, from $0.6bn in 2010 to $4.2bn in 2011, just below the $4.6bn invested in wind during the year, according to figures released yesterday by analysts Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

A record 2,827MW of wind energy capacity was added in 2011, which kept India third behind China and the US in terms of new installations. BNEF said a further 2,500MW to 3,200MW could be added in 2012.

Grid-connected solar also saw a substantial increase, up from 18MW in 2010 to an estimated 277MW by the end of 2011, while another 500MW to 750MW of solar projects could be added in the coming year.

But India still has significant scope for growth as it only accounts for four per cent of global investment in clean energy.

Nevertheless, this huge growth in a year of a slowdown may indicate that green energy is beginning to become cost-competitive.

Germany, over the years has discovered a way to make green energy economically acceptable. The UK climate change minister, Greg Barker, writes in the Guardian:

There’s no denying that Germany has been a real pioneer in building a competitive low-carbon economy. Its renewables industry supports 340,000 jobs and replaces €5bn (£4.3bn) worth of energy imports per annum.

[T]his renewables powerhouse .. has learnt [lessons] from its well-established feed-in tariffs (Fit) scheme. … The Fit scheme rewards people financially to generate and export electricity they produce from renewable sources like solar panels and wind turbines. … [T]he solar industry has seen a massive boom from Fits here.

We need a mix of low-carbon energy to protect ourselves from volatile fossil fuel markets and disruption to supplies from unrest abroad. There is no choice but to have a sustainable energy source that we can guarantee will be there for us when we switch on the lights.

One of the most overlooked and underrated weapons in our energy security armour is energy efficiency. Reducing energy demand will be crucial to cutting bills and managing supplies. In short, it’s the energy we don’t use which will be the most reliable. This is why the coalition is introducing the green deal.

British, and German, policy is rooted in profitability. So it is worth understanding why and how these governments are moving towards sustainable energy.

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Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

February 5, 2012 at 4:41 am

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