Renewable energy marks Kerry visit to India

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry with Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid during a news conference on June 24, 2013 in New Delhi. The highlight of Kerry's first visit to India was a $100 million loan for clean energy. Photo by: U.S. State Department

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped up on Tuesday his first visit to India with the highlight of a $100 million loan guarantee program by USAID on private sector financing for clean energy under the Development Credit Authority.

Kerry traveled with U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah, who explained that the agency — facilitated by the American investment fund Northern Lights Capital Group — will partner with local renewable energy firm Nereus Capital Management to “dramatically leverage large scale funding to help India’s transition to a low carbon economy and open-up new development opportunities for enhanced energy access.”

Shah stressed that it is the first time USAID partners up with a private investment fund to facilitate an investment, a new strategy that he hopes will make it easier for U.S. companies to access the Indian market for clean energy, while the U.S. Secretary of State added: “Access to energy is the essential ingredient of economic development. You can’t create jobs in the dark.”

The partnership is expected to create up to 400 additional megawatts of sustainable energy capacity, enough to light the homes of tens of thousands of Indian families in a country with an acute power shortage but where the government nevertheless hopes to generate 30,000 MW of renewable energy by 2018.

Shah also announced the nine winners of this year’s Millennium Alliance awards, which support innovation in development in a joint initiative by USAID, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Technology Development Fund of the Indian Department of Science and Technology.

Among the awardees were the creators of a smart cook stove that operates with low-cost thermoelectric modules that generate electricity from widely used biomass, a model for cheap community water plants, a micro-grid that cuts transmission and distribution losses in power supply to villages, and a smartphone-based diagnostic technology for preventing blindness to speed up diagnosis of cataracts and other ocular ailments.

The visit coincided with the aftermath of severe floods in the northern part of the country, to which U.S. Agency for International Development provided $150,000 in emergency relief funds to be distributed by the authorities and NGOs in the affected areas of Uttarakhand, where nearly 6,000 residents are stranded.

Kerry and Shah departed India on Tuesday. The U.S. top diplomat proceeded to Saudi Arabia, while the USAID chief is taking part in a USAID-sponsored investment conference to attract private sector investment to Pakistan.

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About the author

  • Carlos Santamaria

    Carlos is a former associate editor for breaking news in Devex's Manila-based news team. He joined Devex after a decade working for international wire services Reuters, AP, Xinhua, EFE ,and Philippine social news network Rappler in Madrid, Beijing, Manila, New York, and Bangkok. During that time, he also covered natural disasters on the ground in Myanmar and Japan.

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