US environmentalist cautions against focus on solar energy in rural areas


New Delhi: American global thinker on energy and environment Michael Shellenberger believes there’s “too much” thrust on solar energy for rural villages.

“I think Indianeeds to do everything at once. There’s too much focus on solar power for rural villages. Most people gain access to power around the world by moving to the city.

“Rural electrification tends to be the last stage of electrification because it’s one of the most expensive ways… India would do really well to focus its energy activities on factories and manufacturing,” Shellenberger said.

“Manufacturing can absorb a large number of subsistence farmers into the formal economy. Manufacturing liberates women and is also productively enhancing,” he added.

Co-author of “An Ecomodernist Manifesto” and recipient (with Ted Nordhaus) of the Green Book Award and Time magazine’s ‘Hero of the Environment’ award, Shellenberger spoke on What an Indian can learn from the history of environmental progress.

“You have limited amount of money you can spend on these things. Your Rs.1,000 crore or 10,000 crore spent on base-load coal for a factory is simply going to deliver more in terms of human development and economic growth in that same amount of money than a solar micro-grid in a countryside.

“Yes it can provide lighting etc., but it’s not adding productivity to the economy.”

Tossing out arguments, the environmental researcher felt if solar targets are achieved and that elevates the economic position of people in rural areas, they will tend to move out to cities.

“If it succeeds and it raises people out of poverty, then they are going to want to leave the countryside for the cities.”(IANS)(Image Courtesy: