India Habitat Center, New Delhi | Friday May 27, 2016
(As prepared for delivery)
Good evening everyone. I’m very pleased to be here with you all today to celebrate innovation in clean energy. I want to thank the India Habitat Center for offering this beautiful venue. Joseph Stein, the American architect who designed this building, was a committed environmentalist who championed the preservation of India’s natural heritage. I think he would be very pleased to see a green energy event like this being hosted at one of his buildings.
I want to give a special thanks to Secretary Tripathy and all his staff at the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. Without the efforts of the ministry, the PACEsetter Fund would never have taken off the ground. Secretary Tripathy, we very much appreciate your leadership.
I also want to acknowledge Director Popli, the head of the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency and the secretariat of the Indo US Science and Technology Forum. Thank you for your support of the PACEsetter Fund.
India is a nation on the move. The last two decades have witnessed a dramatic transformation; the coming decades even more so. Two-thirds of the India of 2030 is yet to be built. This is a daunting challenge, but also an opportunity to use innovative technologies to leapfrog development. Nowhere is this more true than in the field of energy. If we can work together to make the right investments now, the India of tomorrow can have access to clean and reliable power to fuel its economic rise, while also combatting the effects of climate change .
In my two years here, I’ve been impressed with the progress that the Ministry of Power and its sister ministries have made in improving access to energy. I’ve also worked in government long enough to know, and I’m sure my Indian counterparts would agree, that government doesn’t have all the answers and can’t solve all the problems. But the public sector can play a role in empowering ordinary citizens. That’s what the PACEsetter Fund is all about. Identify new ideas and entrepreneurs with vision, and providing a catalyst in the form of funding to get them started.
At this very moment, scientists and entrepreneurs around the world are working to find a breakthrough in renewable energy that could revolutionize the way we live our lives. The person who ushers in this coming clean energy revolution may very well be an Indian. That’s where the PACEsetter Fund comes in.
A “pacesetter” is a person who leads the way, who sets the pace for the rest of us. So we are here tonight to recognize a few of those innovators doing pioneering work and leading us to the future.
It is important to note that what we are celebrating here today is not the size of the grants, but the quality of the ideas and the intensity of the commitment. Many of you will know that Apple Computer didn’t begin in an ITT or a cutting edge laboratory but rather in a cluttered garage in a middle class neighborhood. Jamsetji Tata started his world famous company by opening a tiny trading firm in Gujarat. He started that business with less than $400 to his name. He did pretty well!
After Secretary Tripathy and I announced the first call for Expressions of Interest last August at the off-grid summit here in Delhi, we received no less than 146 proposals from all over India. After careful consideration, the committee selected nine truly outstanding applicants. Some of the members of that committee are here today including Dr. Arunabha Ghosh, CEO of the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) and Anurag Mishra of the US Agency for International Development. Many thanks to all the committee members who selflessly gave their time and talents to this great cause.
Before we meet our winners, I would like to announce Round Two of the PACEsetter Fund. Starting today, you are free to go online to PACEsetterfund.org, read about the program and if you have a great idea like any one of our nine winners, write it up and send it in. The program will accept Expressions of Interest until August 1st of this year.
Now I’d like to invite Secretary Tripathy to join me as we recognize each grantee and invite them up to briefly describe their program and their goals. Please join me in congratulating India’s leaders in clean energy innovation!