Recently, there has been a lot of focus on solar power for rural villages. Contrary to this, American global thinker on energy and environment Michael Shellenberger has vouched for going big on nuclear energy in India, and has cautioned against 'too much' thrust on solar power for rural villages.
"I think India needs 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," said Shellenberger.
"Manufacturing can absorb large number of subsistence farmers into the formal economy. Manufacturing liberates women and is also productively enhancing," he added.
Asked on the arguments for his observations, the pro-nuclear environmentalist contended solar power in rural areas is not adding productivity to the economy. He said, "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. He said, "If it succeeds and it raises people out of poverty, then they are going to want to leave the countryside for the cities."