India should retool its economy to run on renewable energy, creating millions of jobs and raising the standard of living, says Anil K. Rajvanshi.
The global economic downturn provides an excellent opportunity to improve India's energy supplies, which are critical to supporting better infrastructure and driving growth, argues Rajvanshi. The increasing number of qualified engineers and scientists remaining in India, or returning from the United States, should be used in the renewable energy sector, he says.
India predicts it will need an extra 75,000 megawatts of electricity-generating capacity by 2012. The country produces around 600 million tonnes of agricultural residue each year — if only half of this was available for use in biomass-based power plants, it would still produce 40,000 megawatts of energy, says Rajvanshi. And the shortfall could be made up through solar and wind energy, he adds.
Combined, these sources of energy would create 50 million jobs in India — no other energy resource can match this, claims Rajvanshi. Moreover, these renewable energies allow for rapid scale-up because they can be harnessed through a network of small, modular power plants.