TULSI R. TANTI
Chairman and Managing Director, Suzlon Energy
I am a traveller — not by profession but,
rather, for my profession. My business
has taken me around the world many
times. My travels have given me the
opportunity to witness the modern
world’s glory and also to come face-toface
with some of its disappointments.
In this world of contrasts, many basic
human needs have been left unfulfilled
— food, water and energy.
At first glance, all three challenges seem
unconnected. But are they? To me, they
all seem to be the consequence of one
basic fundamental mistake.
We face food shortages because we
have eroded irrigation land, burned
down forests and created an imbalance
in the very source — nature. Our
industrialization is based on rich
intensity, but highly polluting energy
sources contributing to climate change,
which in turn has led to extreme cases
of droughts and floods — the reason for
water shortage. Lastly, we are heavily
dependent on depleting sources of nonrenewable
energy, ignoring the vast
renewable natural resources.
The common thread running
through all our challenges stems from
our approach — or rather the lack of
it — towards nature. The connection
runs deeper. Today, brilliant minds
from across the world have figured
out solutions to meet our food
and energy requirements — better
irrigation methods, desalination
processes, and the like — but all
of these improvements are energy
intensive. So, if we can solve the
energy puzzle, we open up several
more opportunities to meeting our
food and water requirements.
A puzzle is defined as a mass of
irregular pieces, which when fitted
together form a complete picture.
Now, look at the world map —
doesn’t the definition fit? Irregular
shaped countries and continents,
with inequitable distribution of
resources, in different stages of
growth — all fitting together to form
one complete picture. It is obvious
then, that a problem which plagues
the whole world needs a solution that
is applicable to the whole world.
The root of the energy puzzle is simple
— we need a lot more energy than
we are producing; the developed
countries need to sustain their growth,
the developing countries to power their
own growth and progress. The challenge
is to meet energy requirements in
a fashion that is both responsible and
sustainable; a task made more difficult
due to issues of energy security and
climate change. But, at the heart of
every challenge is an opportunity. The
opportunity here is to make most of
the natural and abundant resources
with which the world is blessed; closing
the energy gap with power generated
from renewable resources, which are
clean, green and plentiful.
The average global power consumption
currently stands at 15 terawatts (TW),
and the global wind power potential
alone is 72 TW. A single average-sized
wind turbine can prevent the emission
of 1,500 tons of CO2 each year.
Renewable sources are not only part
of the solution to our depleting fossil
fuels, they are the also the way towards
a healthier planet.
Recognizing the solution, though
arguably the biggest step, is to win
only half the battle. The components
that are popularly believed to be up
against each other — different energy
segments, countries and even divisions
among Governments, industry and
academia — are all, in reality, crucial
pieces of the puzzle. All have to
work together to provide a level and
transparent playing field, where no
borders exist and everyone is aiming to
reach one objective.
This is not easy, but at least we benefit
from knowing how the completed
puzzle would look. Global leaders
would keep differences aside and focus
on creating global solutions. The world
would have a truly diversified energy
portfolio, in which the mix assures
energy security and minimizes the
environmental threat. The best of
the developed world’s technique and
expertise would be used to develop
new “green” markets with the least
resistance. Governments, the private
sector and the regulators would realize
that they all seek a common goal —
to serve the world’s people — so they
would encourage and collaborate with
It is agreed that the past attempts
at an agreement legally binding on
all nations have faced more than
one roadblock, but none of them
were without a positive outcome.
COP15 brought together 120 heads of
State and Government, 114 of them
voluntarily signing the Copenhagen
Accord. Since the conference, the
number has gone up to 139 countries
— a clear indication that each nation
wants to seek the path towards a
greener tomorrow. The climate
summit may not have achieved its
targeted outcome, but it did certainly
bring us a step closer to it.
So COP16 in Cancun should be
a platform to gain knowledge on
what worked and what did not.
Governments around the world have applied very successful policies
and mandates such as renewable
standards, feed-in tariffs, renewable
energy certificates, cap and trade, and
unique initiatives like wind auctions.
The private sector has contributed
immensely, resulting in improved
production processes and cutting-edge
technological advances. They have
set the lead, and clearly shown that
the path towards a greener tomorrow,
though difficult, is not impossible.
I believe that sharing knowledge is
invaluable to solving the energy puzzle.
The next step is to take solutions that
have worked locally on to the global
stage, so that the picture is complete.
Let the dialogue begin, I believe we
can — and shall — solve this puzzle if
we really want to. I certainly do.