Home / Politics / Policy /  Meeting on green energy likely to be part of PM’s agenda during US visit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi may take part in a roundtable discussion on green energy when he visits the US later this month to attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

The roundtable is being organized by the ministry of external affairs against the backdrop of a World Trade Organisation (WTO) panel’s ruling against India in a dispute raised by the US over the country’s solar power programme.

According to Indian government officials who spoke on condition of anonymity, Modi’s address on renewable energy is expected to focus on the technological and investment engagement that India is seeking with other nations, including the US.

Modi is also expected to articulate on India’s vision and goals in technology, capacity and human resources development plans related to the renewable energy sector in India at the rou-ndtable, which is being organized before the global climate change negotiations culminate in a December summit in Paris.

The India-US energy dialogue, which encompasses coal, power, renewable energy and petroleum sectors, is scheduled for 21 September, followed by the India-US economic dialogue on 22 September.

India and the US plan to deepen their economic engagement on divisive issues such as intellectual property rights, taxation and a bilateral investment pact. Energy minister Piyush Goyal may lead the Indian delegation at the energy dialogue; finance minister Arun Jaitley is expected to lead the Indian team at the economic dialogue.

Queries emailed to the spokespersons for the prime minister’s office, and the ministries of finance, renewable energy and external affairs remained unanswered till press time.

India is likely to appeal against the WTO dispute settlement panel’s ruling in the dispute raised by the US over the Indian government’s imposition of local content requirements for solar cells and solar modules. The government has offered financial support of up to 1 crore per megawatt (MW) to the implementing agency for setting up large solar capacities by placing orders with domestic manufacturers.

WTO members are not supposed to insist on national content requirements that discriminate against foreign products.

The WTO panel’s ruling against India last month came at a time when India, under Modi’s Make in India programme, is seeking to attract foreign investment and turning India into a manufacturing hub. India needs as much as $200 billion to meet its green energy targets oof installing 100 gigawatts (GW) of solar power and 60,000MW of wind power by 2022.

So far, US financing for renewable energy projects in India using US equipment has found no takers since many project developers opt for cheaper products from China and South-East Asia. In addition, even though interest costs on foreign loans are lower, project developers have to hedge their foreign currency exposure. The additional hedging costs reduce the appeal of foreign currency loans.

The US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) and the Export-Import Bank of the US have committed $2 billion and $1 billion, respectively, for developing green energy projects in India.

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government has made energy security a key policy priority since taking office in May 2014.

Its emphasis on solar and wind power is expected to strengthen India’s standing at global climate change negotiations that culminate in the Paris summit.

In India, which is the biggest greenhouse gas emitter after the US and China, renewable energy currently accounts for 13%, or 35,777MW, of the total installed capacity of 2,74,818MW.

A joint statement issued by India and the US made specific references of support to India’s ambitious green energy programme during US President Barack Obama’s visit to India in January this year.

Modi, who will be in the US during 23-28 September, is expected to speak at the UN General Assembly in New York after which he will travel to Silicon Valley in California. He will address the Indian-American community at the SAP Center in San Jose on 27 September. While in Silicon Valley, he is also expected to meet the heads of major technology companies.


Utpal Bhaskar

"Utpal Bhaskar leads Mint's policy and economy coverage. He is part of Mint’s launch team, which he joined as a staff writer in 2006. Widely cited by authors and think-tanks, he has reported extensively on the intersection of India’s policy, polity and corporate space.
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