The world’s biggest democratic election is here. Well, almost…
India’s electoral commission this week set the dates for the country’s general election. The voting is due to start on 7 April and finish on 12 May, with votes to be counted on 16 May.
The numbers are mind-boggling. There are over 800million eligible voters in 543 constituencies voting for thousands of candidates from dozens of political parties.
But why should you care? Two words: Narendra Modi.
Modi is one of the leading prime ministerial candidates. He has been chief minister of the region of Gujarat since 2001, is one of India’s most popular politicians, and stands a good chance of winning this election, on behalf of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
His rivals in this election include Rahul Gandhi of the Congress party and Arvind Keiriwal of the Aam Aadmi Party. Politics is notoriously unpredictable, but Modi has a good chance.
The reason this is important is that Modi wants an “energy revolution” in India. He wants to better harness power from sources including wind, solar and hydropower alongside coal, gas, biomass and nuclear. He could start a wind power boom.
Now, India is no slouch when it comes to wind power.
It is the fifth-largest producer of wind power in the world, with more than 19GW currently up-and-running. The wind-rich region of Tamil Nadu is one of the main wind power hubs in South Asia with capacity of over 7.1GW, ahead of Gujarat (3.2GW), Maharashtra (3GW), and Rajasthan (2.7GW).
The country is also looking at how it can take advantage of offshore wind. The Global Wind Energy Council announced in January that it had started a four-year project to develop a plan for the development of offshore wind in India, with a focus on Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. It will work with the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, state governments, and other parts of the Indian government. The country is making progress.
But on a regional level it remains a very mixed picture. When it comes to backing energy from renewable sources, many of India’s 28 states are currently doing little or nothing.
If Modi became India’s leader he could bring national change. We need only look at how far Gujarat has come with wind power under his leadership. Official data states that wind generation capacity in the state has grown tenfold over the last six years.
Manufacturers will watch the national poll with interest. Not just Indian firms like Suzlon, but global players active in India such as Enercon, Gamesa, General Electric and Vestas. It may also open up more opportunities for global firms to invest in the market.
There are still plenty of variables, of course.
Modi has to win the world’s biggest election; and, if he does, there is no guarantee he could replicate at a national level the major impact he had on wind power in Gujarat.
But he is a fan of renewables. For that reason alone, it couldn’t do any harm having him in India’s top seat.
Four Republican congressmen have called for a halt to US offshore wind projects because of unsubstantiated claims blaming the industry for whale deaths. But this obvious misinformation can still be a threat for the growth of the industry.