Bad Kreuznach (Germany) : Tapping renewable energy is a major economic opportunity for developing economies like India. There is a master plan to clean up cities and this would lead to more jobs. But we need to invest, says German environmental and energy consultant Peter Heck, who believes the corporate world is taking money out of the carbon-related business.
It is all about how to use resources with the highest most efficiency. This is also referring to money.
“India needs a plan for all states and all villages with technical proposals and investment demands. And suddenly the whole ‘problem’ turns into a huge ‘develop India’ venture,” Heck, who is the Managing Director with the Institute for Applied Material Flow Management in Trier University of Applied Sciences, told IANS in an interview.
“Look at all the biomass you are throwing into landfills. Millions of litres of oil polluting the environment. This could be energy and fertilizer.
“If you do the numbers on a large scale, you will see (the solution). The problem is the complexity of opportunities, i.e., fertilizer, energy, environment protection, local jobs plus climate protection. All this has to be calculated together.”
Heck was in this spa resort, located in the Nahe Valley just 40 km from Rhineland-Palatinate’s capital of Mainz, for interacting with visiting journalists from across the globe.
People in Germany’s small towns and rural areas, through energy cooperatives, are turning to renewable energy and this is a new business model for sustainable growth to limit manmade climate change along with strengthening regional purchasing power.
For Heck, who was energy consultant for the city of Dormagen and the municipality of Wallerfangen, renewables are not only a major economic opportunity but a big chance to decentralise development and local added value, if properly done.
“The use of solar-powered water pumps in India could save millions of rupees for the provincial governments, which could use this money for education or more investment in renewable energy,” he maintained.
On some of India’s most polluted cities in the world, the energy consultant said shifting investment towards renewables will help the economy.
“Well I could easily provide your government with a master plan for cleaning up your cities. This plan would lead to more jobs, less expenses and clean environment. But we need to invest. Examples from China (in the initial stages) exist.”
Targets should be more ambitious in order to push the country’s technical and scientific brains, he said.
Aim for 100 per cent and make a proper time schedule. That’s what Germany did and so far, all parties have stuck to 2050 as the final date for goodbye to fossil fuels.
“In Germany, we have government programmes helping companies to reflect on their consumption and their opportunities in the market with the help of efficiency and renewable energy. (Investment advisory) DEG is offering RECs (resource efficiency checks) for companies as a customer service,” Heck said.
On high emissions in China, he said: “China will consequently improve because of industrial policy strategies. They got the numbers and the opportunities and will do it. Unfortunately, they will also continue to sell coal to Africa and Asia together with old technology.”
“But in China, despite the nightmare situation, we have seen a change. We work for companies in Beijing and they really face serious pressure from the government to reduce consumption and carbon emissions.”
“India has low industrial development. You have the unique chance to avoid all the mistakes and misallocations of capital by opting for a shortcut in energy supply. It would greatly help to fight poverty and push India technically and scientifically,” he said.
Companies are aware and are investing directly for own supply or in divestment, i.e., taking money out of carbon-related business, an optimistic Heck said, adding: “The fossil ones will be the losers.”
The 2018 National Electricity Plan sets India on a similarly ambitious trajectory of a staggering 275 gigawatts of renewables by 2027.
(Vishal Gulati was in Germany for a media study tour of the Clean Energy Wire or CLEW. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)