India is reinventing its energy strategy – and the global climate could benefit

At a cement factory of the Dalmia Bharat Group in Ariyalur, Tamil Nadu, engineers use non-biodegradable municipal waste as fuel for the kiln, as well as industrial waste. Normally, the combustion of these scraps generates toxic smoke, but they can be burned at very high temperatures without polluting the atmosphere. “The energy delivered in this way reduces the amount needed to maintain the furnace temperature,” explains TR Robert, the plant manager. By using this waste, the site has been able to reduce coal consumption by 15%.

Similarly, other sectors, including the steel industry, are stepping up their efforts to improve their energy efficiency. They are encouraged to do so by a program that, like carbon credits, allows companies to sell the credits they have obtained from exceeding efficiency targets to companies that fall short. The government especially wants to improve the energy efficiency of new homes and commercial spaces, which are emerging at a dizzying pace.

” Independently of [le nombre de logements] Although the country has been building for forty or fifty years, we plan to build 80% of it in the next ten years, said Abhay Bakre, director of the Office of Energy Efficiency. And most will be air-conditioned. In particular, some 100 municipalities are in the process of transforming the government into ‘smart cities’ – adding urban spaces with energy-efficient buildings and offering better infrastructure, such as waste management facilities and public transport.

The government has updated its energy saving code for new commercial buildings. Abhay Bakre is optimistic that advances in design and materials will significantly reduce their energy burden. “If you ask an architect to design a building today, he won’t come up with the same design as he did ten years ago. It will make better use of natural light and use better insulation, lighting, air conditioning, pumps and more efficient water supplies. »

During my visits to India over the past twenty decades, I have seen the rise of the middle class and its standard of living. The changes are visible not only in the malls of major cities, such as Delhi and Mumbai, but also in smaller cities, where the narrow streets, once packed with bicycles and rickshaws, are now packed with cars and motorcycles. In Dhanbad I met PJ Kumar, a car salesman at a luxury dealership. He explains to me that twenty years ago most of the cars he sold were bought by entrepreneurs. “Now government employees and young professionals can easily afford it. The customer base has grown tremendously,” he adds. PJ Kumar started selling cars thirty years ago in what was then the only dealer in Dhanbad. There are now ten.

I have come a long way with Chetan Singh Solanki as he traveled through Madhya Pradesh to spread his slogan of energy self-sufficiency as I mentioned at the beginning of this article. After leaving, it was hard not to feel a little guilty in hotels with temperature-controlled rooms, where hot water sprays from showers and toilets with the power of a mini-cyclone. Such conveniences are not exceptional for travelers in developed countries, but only now are they beginning to become part of the lives of many Indians. Back in the United States, I called Chetan Singh Solanki to ask him if his appeal to a more frugal life was not a little too idealistic and somewhat unfair to his compatriots when the rich countries were not invited to give up their comforts.

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