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US and India Can Partner on Renewable Technology Projects

By Michael Gold 

India’s per capita income was $1,900, in 2020, according to the World Bank. U.S. per capital income was more than $63,000. Historically, India’s share of carbon emissions is very low, while the US is the world’s second largest emitter.

So, why should we care how much carbon India is releasing in building economic growth?

India generated the third highest amount of carbon emissions in 2021, at about 2.88 gigatons.

Its population is about 1.38 billion, according to World Population Review. China’s population is about 1.4 billion. India’s fertility rate is about 2.20 children. China’s fertility rate is 1.70 children.

India’s population is expected to keep growing, to about 1.65 billion, by 2060, while China’s population is expected to decline after 2030. At some point, and possibly soon, India will overtake China as the country with the biggest population.

Greater population generally means economic growth and more carbon emissions.

The danger is that India will greatly increase its carbon emissions to power a growing economy.

The World Bank projects that India will enjoy a nine percent economic growth rate in 2022, after a nine percent growth rate in 2021. As a rising economic force, India’s economy, the seventh largest in the world, ahead of Italy, Brazil, and Canada, is heavily dependent on oil and coal.

Seventy percent of India’s energy comes from coal, which emits more carbon than any other fossil fuel. It ranks third in the world in terms of oil consumption, behind the USA and China. Its oil use is expected to rise 50 percent by 2030, according to the IEA.

To its credit, India, at the 2021 UN Climate Conference, sketched out a path to meet 50 percent of its energy requirements from renewable energy in just eight years.

This presents the United States government and American companies with the opportunity to help them get there. As a country that receives the blessings of ample sunshine every day, India is one of the easier global targets for switching out oil and coal use for solar.

The United States and India should look seriously at pursuing an environmental technology sharing agreement. Despite all the oil and coal it consumes, the US has a great deal of experience in installing large solar farms. For instance, California’s Solar Star project in the southern part of the state, contains 1.7 million solar panels covering an area four times the size of New York’s Central Park. Solar Star provides enough power to generate electricity for more than 250,000 homes. Six of ten of the country’s largest solar farms sit in California. Solar power provides almost 14 percent of California’s electricity. The other biggest solar installations are in Arizona and Nevada, which also get plenty of sun.

India has the largest solar farm in the world, so it can share its solar expertise with the US, which needs to scale up its renewable energy capacity in multiple regions.

How can the US help India? Financing, engineering expertise and language.

In terms of finance, the five largest investment banks in the world are based in the US – JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Citibank, and Morgan Stanley. Goldman Sachs has committed $150 billion to finance clean energy investments. Bank of America pledges to spend $1.5 trillion on renewable energy around the world. JP Morgan Chase has a goal to invest $2.5 trillion in renewable energy and clean technologies. JP Morgan Chase has affirmed on its web site, “The firm will finance and facilitate transactions that support socioeconomic development and quality of life in developing countries…the firm will mobilize capital to advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in emerging economies.”

The tremendous amounts of monies these banks invest can help fund large solar projects at the scale India needs, to move the country as fast as possible to achieve its renewable energy goals.

Concerning engineering expertise, the US has increased its solar capacity by a third in just ten years. US business has a can-do spirit to get things done.

Another advantage in developing an environmental technology sharing agreement between the US and India is language. English is one of India’s official languages. India has about 125 million English speakers. English is the language of Indian higher education, media, and corporations.

There should be far fewer impediments to working together because the Indians and Americans who will be engaged in these projects share a common language.

Israel and Morocco signed an agreement in May 2022 to work together on developing renewable energy, water desalination and many other technologies. This agreement could serve as a model for India and the US. Historic enemies, Israel and Morocco didn’t even have diplomatic relations until 2020.

An environmental technology agreement between the US and India would help achieve the goal of building a sustainable economy for both countries and further deepen their ties.