The India Today Group’s India-Japan Conclave, held at The Oberoi in New Delhi on November 30, marked a significant moment—it commemorated 70 years of diplomatic ties between the two nations. The day-long event saw participation from political and business leaders from both nations as well as cultural exchanges, social insights and much more.
The conclave was attended by several dignitaries, from Union minister for power and new & renewable energy R.K. Singh and Japan’s ambassador to India Hiroshi Suzuki to India Foundation board of governors member Ram Madhav, Hitachi India managing director Bharat Kaushal and Japan embassy minister (economic and development) Kyoko Hokugo. The keynote events from the day, however, were the sessions with power minister Singh and the speech by ambassador Suzuki.
In his discussion with India Today Group editorial director (publishing) Raj Chengappa and deputy editor Anilesh S. Mahajan, Singh was upbeat about India’s prospects. To begin with, the conversation focused on the clean energy partnership between India and Japan. “We have become a world leader insofar as renewables are concerned,” said the minister, adding: “Our total non-fossil [power generation] capacity today is 186,000 megawatts—186 gigawatts—and we have 99 gigawatts under construction. We were the first country to achieve our NDCs in terms of adding renewables. We said that we would have 40 per cent of our [power generation] capacity coming from non-fossil fuels by 2030. We reached that target in 2021.”
Singh said that outside of China, India had the fastest-growing renewable energy capacity in the world. “We have also emerged as the favoured destination for investments [in renewable power]. Whatever capacity is being added is being done through open bids, and those bids are hotly contested. Every major company in the world, and every major fund, is invested here. We haven’t had to invest a single paisa,” he said.
In terms of cooperation with Japan, Singh noted: “I see this as a great opportunity for Japanese companies to also come and compete [or the bids]. It is a very competitive field. Bloomberg categorised us as the most attractive market for investment in renewables.”
The minister also spoke about related efforts in this field, such as manufacturing of non-fossil power sources like solar cells and modules. “We are also setting up manufacturing capacities—we had about 20 gigawatts of manufacturing capacity for [solar] cells and modules. We came out with a production-linked incentive (PLI). As a result, we now have about 48,000 megawatts of manufacturing capacity, right from poly-silicon to modules—the whole value chain—being set up in India. Japanese companies can participate in that also.”
On green hydrogen, Singh had this to say: “Here, again, we have emerged as one of the biggest manufacturers in the world. That’s no hyperbole. We have 7.8 million tonnes of green hydrogen manufacturing capacity at different stages. We shall be the biggest manufacturers of green hydrogen and green ammonia in the world, and our prices will be the most competitive.”
Bringing the conversation back to the subject of cooperation with Japan, he added: “And if Japan is looking for a lot of green hydrogen and green ammonia, they won’t get it cheaper anywhere else.” He also noted that in the near future, such trades could also result in the transfer of carbon credits to purchasing countries, something Japan may be interested in.
Singh also spoke on several other issues, including climate change, emissions, thermal power and India’s growing demand for energy.
ON THERMAL POWER IN THE AGE OF CLIMATE CHANGE
“When it comes to the pressure [to phase out coal-fired power plants], let me tell you, there can be no pressure on us. The rate of our energy shift [towards renewable power] is among the fastest in the world. Our per-capita emissions are one-third the global average. The whole battle the world is waging [against climate change] is about emissions. The discussion is about reducing emissions. How we do it is our business,” he said.
ON HOW TO REDUCE EMISSIONS
“What is causing the global rise in temperatures is emissions, and our [per capita] emissions are among the lowest in the worldâ€æ The [global per capita] emissions need to be brought down to six tonnes per capita per year—but at the same time, developing countries need space to develop. Developed countries need to bring down their emissions much faster. The discussion is not about coal. It is about emissions. The discussion about coal is a diversion, a dangerous diversion, used by some developed countries to shift the focus away from their emissions,” he said.
ON INDIA’S GROWING DEMAND FOR POWER
“If [India’s power demand] requires adding 80 gigawatts [of thermal power], that is what I am doing. But despite this, the share of thermal power generation capacity in my power portfolio—which is about 57 per cent right now—will come down to 35 per cent by 2030, because I am adding renewables at a faster pace. By 2030, I will have 65 per cent of my power generation capacity coming from non-fossil fuel sources,” the minister said.
Source : India Today