Rural India could produce its own power by using biomass: Doris Leuthard
Doris Leuthard is former pre-sident of Switzerland and currently, federal councillor heading the Swiss department of energy, environment and transport and communication. Visiting India recently to attend a conference on biodiversity, Leuthard spoke with Atul Thakurabout India’s energy situation, how our rural areas can be electrified through safe power sources – and the challenges our system poses to energy investors from abroad:
There is immense pressure in Switzerland to phase out nuclear power plants – but do you think India, which struggles with a huge gap between power demand and supply, can afford to overlook the nuclear option?
Well, after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, many countries are looking for safer and more secure power options. I admit that in India, there is a huge gap between the demand and supply of power. In the end, it’s the price that matters the most to the consumers. With the government’s initiatives to support the use of renewable and safer power, the cost of production for these will eventually come down and unsafe and polluting power plants could gradually be phased out.
How exactly can the government support safer power?
By giving subsidies and encouraging private players. Firstly, the government should encourage private players to invest in cleaner power sources like solar power, wind, thermal and biomass-based. Secondly, the pricing should be market-driven.
It’s a known fact that most of our conventional power sources will gradually get exhausted – and eventually become costlier. This is the time when the Indian government should come up with policies that favour companies to invest in alternative power sources.
A large majority of our population in rural areas still awaits electricity connections. Is it right to invest in safer power and wait till this becomes affordable – or focus on providing electricity to all irrespective of its source?
It’s very important to provide electricity connections to everyone. A part of India’s power problem is also the faulty distribution system – a subs-tantial part of power generated is lost in distribution. Why not facilitate rural areas to produce their own power by using biomass which is available in plenty? This will reduce the loss of power and also make rural areas self-reliant.