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Solar heat on energy talks

US energy secretary Ernest Moniz with Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia in New Delhi on Tuesday. (AFP)

New Delhi, March 11: India and the US continued to deliberate on the solar panel issue during the energy dialogue here today with Washington stressing the importance of opening the market for its clean solar energy that will reduce costs.

“The notion that the clean technology revolution remains a distant goal is changing as cost reductions in clean technologies (photovoltaic, LED and wind) continue to advance at a rapid pace. A shift in the public attitude towards the need for prudent action to pursue the clean energy agenda is being witnessed. This is important to address the risks of climate change,” US energy secretary Ernest Moniz said here today.

India has been insisting on higher use of domestic content in solar power projects, which the US says discriminates against their panel makers. Indians point out that the US panel makers enjoy subsidies.

According to Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, “Subsidies need to be explicit and it is important to distinguish between subsidy and finance. Renewable energy projects need to have a revenue model that can be financed and then we can bend over backwards to ease the regulatory restriction to address the externalities in renewable energy financing.”

New Delhi last year invited bids from firms to set up projects with a capacity of 750 megawatts to further expand the solar programme. The government, however, said locally made content had to be used to generate half of this new capacity.

US trade representative Michael Froman has claimed the rule violates international trade law and raises the cost of solar energy.

 
 
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