By Rohit Vaid
New Delhi (IANS) Feb 09, 2012
India should now have an aggressive clean energy solution policy, scaling up development of green technologies for its energy security and export these to developing countries in Africa and Latin America, says United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) Director General Kandeh K. Yumkella.
"India should be aggressive on energy efficiency. If energy is used differently, if energy demand is managed properly, you don't need to build as many power plants as you need today," Yumkella, who was in India, told IANS in an interview.
"If you promote the three principles of access, efficiency and increase in the share of renewable energy, India can be one of the global leaders in the energy revolution going forward in the next two decades," he added.
The Indian government has started doing its bit. It is today among the top five countries in wind energy. The ministry of new and renewable energy has set an ambitious target of 20,000 MW of solar power by 2020. The government is also promoting biomass plants that can produce one to two MW of power to change the energy mix.
Yumkella, who was in New Delhi to attend the "Delhi Sustainable Development Summit", said companies and funds would be interested to invest in green infrastructure in India, if the government frames promotional policies for the sector.
"There are two sources for funds. We have almost three trillion dollars in cash in a number of companies, funds around the world, which are hesitant to invest because of the global financial crisis. I believe with well-defined policies countries like India with a huge market can attract a huge amount of that cash," Yumkella said.
Clean energy investments in India reached $10.3 billion in 2011, about 52 percent higher than the $6.8 billion invested in 2010. This was the highest growth figure of any significant economy in the world and had been put down to improving cost-competitiveness of wind and solar, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).
Yumkella suggested that India should export its green technology solutions to developing countries in Africa and Latin America.
"India has some good programmes like to use waste, biomass to generate electricity and others. These can be scaled up and this would become useful to the rest of the world.
"I should add that your Prime Minister in particular has been a chief driver of South- South corporation. As I speak, my agency is working with Indian firms and taking these energy solutions to Africa."
Industry experts say India with its technology base should accelerate the development of green technologies. Otherwise, it would just be a captive market for developed countries' green industry and its costly technologies.
Agrees Yumkella. "It's a win-win business model where Western companies are making money here which is helping their bottom line in their home base."
Yumkella also praised India for the role it played in the recently concluded United Nations climate change talks in Durban, South Africa.
"India has been a solid voice in all these negotiations and representing the interest and views of developing countries to grow and to create jobs. India's voice has that balanced view for sustainable energy."
Over 500 million Indians will need new homes in a decade
"We have to rethink the way we live or there is no tomorrow," said Pradeep Puri, chairman, urban development committee of industry lobby Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), on the release of the report Sunday.
The report, Urban Infrastructure in India, said the country's population is slated to grow to 1.7 billion by 2050 and rapid urbanization will add nearly 900 million people to Indian cities. And in just over a decade from now, nearly 500 million Indians will need new, urban homes.
According to the report, the problem is accentuated because urban local bodies (ULB) and government procurement in relation to urban infrastructure focus more on construction of the facility than on the long-term operation and maintenance of the facility.
It says that weak fiscal and financial base of Indian ULBs hampers their ability to provide efficient services to citizens. Also, there is no framework that governed maintenance of common spaces such as markets, housing colonies, bridges, footpaths, street lighting and play-grounds.
The report recommends that in respect of all Jawahar Lal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) cities and ULBs receiving project assistance from the central government, the appointment of transaction advisors (TA) should be actively encouraged for the duration of JNNURM or other central government assistance.
It says government authorities should be directed to shift the focus of their contracts for new facilities from merely construction works contracts to performance-based maintenance contracts.
Suggesting reviewing planning norms, the report says it should be efficient for both large and small cities taking into consideration the price variation.
"Indian planning norms have been borrowed mainly from the West and need important modifications. Planning norms should be efficient for large cities and small towns due to land price variation and availability of land."
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Materials developed for first optical fibers with high-speed electronic function
University Park PA (SPX) Feb 09, 2012
For the first time, a group of chemists, physicists, and engineers has developed crystalline materials that allow an optical fiber to have integrated, high-speed electronic functions. The potential applications of such optical fibers include improved telecommunications and other hybrid optical and electronic technologies, improved laser technology, and more-accurate remote-sensing devices. ... read more