India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to office on a promise to bring reliable power to all of India’s citizens. The country is currently home to the world’s largest population of people without access to electricity, some 240 million according to the World Bank.
Lack of power is costing the country 7 percent of badly-needed economic growth each year, meaning fewer jobs and lost opportunities to escape poverty.
In the large northern state of Uttar Pradesh for example, sunset in winter occurs at around 5:30pm. This makes it difficult for children living in villages without their power to do homework, study for exams and progress through school.
So it’s welcome news that the US has now pledged millions of dollars to help India extend its power grid, ahead of a major summit between Prime Minister Modi and President Donald Trump.
The package of support will see US$7.5 million ploughed into “smart grid” research, a technology which India has shown a major interest in acquiring.
Smart grids have been described as an ‘internet for electricity’. A smart grid uses digital technology to track electricity consumption in real time, making it easier for the power companies to manage the balance between supply and demand in the system. In turn this reduces the chance of blackouts, a severe problem in India that suffered the biggest blackout in history in 2012.
The US and India have also agreed to work closely on developing clean coal technology, which India has said it needs in order to deliver its part of the Paris agreement on climate change.
India’s government is determined to bring electricity to all its people, so that hundreds of millions can have the chance of a better life. Whichever country sells them the technology to do it will help tackle poverty and and gain a huge manufacturing boost into the bargain.