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India, Once a Coal Goliath, Is Fast Turning Green

Storage costs, a critical component of renewable energy systems, have also fallen. “The crucial question has been, ‘Yes, but what do you do when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine?’” said Adair Turner, the chairman of the Energy Transitions Commission, which studies climate issues.

The cost of lithium ion batteries, the gold standard in solar power storage, has fallen significantly, Mr. Turner said, largely because of economies of scale. Where the price was about $ 1,000 per kilowatt-hour more than five years ago, it is now $ 273 and dropping, Mr. Mathur said.

The price needs to fall to $ 100 per kilowatt-hour for renewable energy to be comparable in price to coal, Mr. Mathur says. Mr. Turner thinks that will happen far sooner than the year 2030, which his group had been predicting.

“To be blunt, the success of this has been bigger than I certainly realized,” Mr. Turner said. “There were people who were optimists, and it’s the optimists who have won out.”

New Delhi had long argued that it was hypocritical of Western nations that have burned fossil fuels for centuries to ask Indians to sacrifice their growth to cope with the effects. But the Modi administration has set ambitious targets for a greener Indian future.

The government pledged in 2015, when the country’s electricity capacity from renewables was 36 gigawatts, to increase it to 175 gigawatts by 2022.

Piyush Goyal, India’s power minister, announced in a speech in late April that the country would take steps to assure that by 2030 only electric cars would be sold.

“That’s rather ambitious,” Rahul Tongia, a fellow at Brookings India, said. “The targets are there. The vision is there. The question is: ‘Is it going to happen? How?’”

The Indian government’s policy research arm, the National Institution for Transforming India, or NITI Aayog, recently released a report in collaboration with the Rocky Mountain Institute in Boulder, Colo., that calculated India could save $ 60 billion and reduce its projected carbon emissions by 37 percent by 2030 if it adopted widespread use of electric vehicles and more public transportation.

Source: NYT > World

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