By Todd Royal
Five years ago, India Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Damodardas Modi was in New York’s Madison Square Garden for a traditional American visit. But that was before President Donald Trump, and his raucous political rallies. In Houston, Texas (U.S.) in mid-September, Modi was greeted “with a deafening mix of cheers and traditional Indian drums, dubbed “Howdy Modi.” Over 50,000 Indian-American’s packed Houston’s NRG Stadium that had Indian and American flags side-by-side to honor the occasion. This rally was three times the size of the Madison Square Garden event.
Modi had many reasons for attending the Houston rally. Houston has over 150,000 Indian-Americans living there who are some of the wealthiest, influential, and best educated in one of the largest energy-hub cities in the world. Many of the Houston Indian-Americans who attended the rally were predominantly born in India, but these American rallies, Modi’s fourth address to Indian-Americans in five years was used for “boosting both Indian diplomacy and his political standing at home.”
Modi was also expected to meet with some of America’s largest energy executives. Combined with Trump’s energy plan where the U.S. is the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas this is a boom for “energy-starved India.” Now is the time to strike the grand energy deal of the century for low emitting, abundant, scalable, affordable, reliable, and flexible natural gas-fired power plants (NGFPP) be provided to India. Only the U.S. was able to meet the Kyoto environmental protocols to limit emissions by using NGFPP over coal-fired plants for electricity.
India’s new power minister, Raj Kumar said on May 30, “24×7 power is the government’s priority.” Using NGFPP from American and Indian power sources working together could fulfill India and Modi’s desire for increased modernization and electrification. Otherwise India – whose coal use increased “9.1% to nearly a billion tonnes in 2018-19,” – will continue being one of the “world’s largest coal producers, greenhouse gas emitters, and estimates coal to be its energy mainstay for at least the next three decades.”
Critics against fossil fuels will argue that India only needs $330 billion to increase its renewable capacity (mainly solar and wind electrical farms) “to 500 Gigawatts (GW), or 40% of total capacity by 2030. Renewables currently account for 22% of India’s total installed capacity of about 357 GW,” according to a government economic survey presented to Indian parliament in July. The problem with this line of thinking by the Indian government, and the reason why they should strike a grand energy deal with the U.S. is every single place renewables have been implemented they are a mathematical disaster. From Germany to states in the U.S. – all that renewables have brought – are significantly higher electrical prices and grid blackouts in Great Britain, New York City, and South Australia. No country has ever powered their economies predominantly using the wind and the sun; and in the foreseeable they never will.
This takes on greater significance realizing the U.S. Energy Information Administration recently forecasted “world energy consumption rising by 50 percent between 2018 and 2050.” The majority of growth comes from non-Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development nations and areas, particularly Asia and India.
India for geopolitical reason should also use American natural gas coupled with Indian manpower, because whether or not you believe in anthropogenic global warming, likely the Chinese don’t. A team led by Dr. Xu Deke, and his colleagues at the Institute of Geology and Geophysics in Beijing published a paper in the science journal Nature Communication in September stating:
“Whenever the climate warmed, Chinese civilization prospered and when it cooled it decline. While people played their part, their study indicated that cycles in solar activity influenced human activity.”
Over fifty years of climate predictions have not yielded accurate results. The Chinese won’t follow inaccurate, western environmentalism, and will continue building coal-fired power plants; and could be why coal is still dominant throughout India. Each respective government and citizenry may say they will follow the Paris Climate Agreement, but their actions show different results.
Unfortunately, India natural gas-power generation is limited to eight to ten percent, whereas the U.S. has replaced approximately forty percent of former coal generation in the last decade with natural gas. India can do the same without hurting their economy. This is where Trump and Modi can change the environmental course of India, Asia and the globe since India will have the largest population in the world by 2027 according to the United Nations. Global emissions are increasing, and natural gas is the only proven way to lower emissions while economies and populations progress upwards.
Energy stability can be India’s norm without continuing to destroy their environment. Seven out of ten of the world’s dirtiest and most polluted cities are located within India. Natural gas can meet India’s economic and security needs. Currently, China is battling India for the “Asian century” – and whose model of prosperity and power Asia chooses – largely depends on who has the most energy.
Research in 2018 by Wood MacKenzie showed that Asian liquefied natural gas (LNG) demand is set to “quadruple by 2030.” China will use LNG, and now India should use LNG-energy, as a realist balancing option against Beijing. Then begin importing U.S. LNG while using coal, and building the appropriate infrastructure to handle LNG used for electrification and power.
Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of U.S. natural gas shale deposits has changed America’s national security, and foreign policy trajectory; and it can do the same for India. Rising Asian LNG demand can be satisfied by US LNG export “capacity that is set to significantly increase in the coming years.” This is welcome news and relief for over 1 billion Indian citizens, Prime Minister Modi, President Trump, global economic benefits, and peace and prosperity that are long overdue in Asia and India. Now is the time for Trump and Modi to strike the energy deal of the century.