MiNisters talk solar aNd MoNsooN plaNs
by Sav D’Souza
BRITAIN and India will collaborate on solar energy, nuclear science, clean water projects and a study of the monsoon, it was announced last week.
India’s minister for science and technology and earth sciences, Dr Harsh Vardhan, was in Britain to cochair
the Fifth Science & Innovation Council (SIC) meeting with his UK counterpart, Jo Johnson, the minister for universities and science.
“The UK is among the most important countries where we have a very dynamic engagement. In India, we are taking up renewable energy in a big way, and in the solar area we will have an even more active engagement with the UK now,” Dr Vardhan said last Wednesday (15) at India House, the Indian High Commission in central London.
Dr Vardhan visited Oxford University, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and Imperial College during his two- day stay (14-16).
India and the UK will invest in solar energy, Dr Vardhan said, adding that Indian scientists will have access to theworldclass
neutron scattering facility at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Oxford. Researchers work on understanding matter at the fundamental level at this facility.
Among other bilateral initiatives are a plan to improve water quality in India, five new projects in the areas of affordable health care, clean technology and electronic design.
A key project would see the India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences work with the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council on a large observational campaign involving British aircraft and Indian ships to try and look at small scale processes and variability of Indian monsoon to improve predicts from short range to seasonal time scale. This project will see underwater robots in the Bay of Bengal in a bid to more accurately predict the Indian monsoon, which is critical to millions of farmers.
Currently, the value of investment inIndo-UK
R&D cooperation from multiple Indian and UK agencies exceeds £200 million of co-funding.
Britain is among the top three col- laborating countries in science and technology with India.
“Working together we can address the main societal challenges impacting India and the UK… common areas such as food, energy, water, security andwell-being,”
said Dr Vardhan.
The minister highlighted numerous projects and areas that India is in- volved in not only with the UK but also with the US and Japan.
India has already signalled its ambitious renewable energy aspirations by stating its intention to install 175GW of renewable power by 2022, most of it solar. This is an enormous undertaking, given the world’s entire installed solar capacity in 2014 was 181GW.
The country invested heavily in clean energy even as its economy continues to be mainly powered by carbon-inten
sive fossil fuels. India invested $10.2 billion (£7bn) in clean energy last year, second to China, which spent nearly $103bn (£70bn).