David Letterman is Impressed by India’s Push Towards Solar Energy
David Letterman has donned many hats in his lifetime – comedian, television show host, race car team owner, philanthropist and much more. And now, having retired from The Late Show after an extremely successful 33-year stint, the 69-year old Letterman traveled to India in early 2016 to take a closer look at the initiatives to promote solar power in India.
A deep rooted energy crisis
During his visit, Letterman, like many others, discovered for the first time how deep rooted the energy crisis is in India. He was surprised to know that more than 300 million Indians still don’t have access to electricity while India consumes coal and other fossil fuels to produce energy. “India is an economic powerhouse of the 21st century and there’s no stopping it. Yet, a large part of the population is still living like America did before the industrial revolution”, he says. “India has enough generators to power all of Australia. These diesel generators emit large quantities of CO2 and particulate matter into the air. It’s not just an energy problem, it’s a human problem. Something has to change.”
Solar energy projects for the masses
There’s always a solution to a problem. Letterman visits some of the villages in Uttar Pradesh that are riding on the winds of change. He meets Anil Raj, a former telecom executive who now heads OMC a solar energy project he started with the aim of bringing electricity to the rural poor of India. “I see small solar energy projects set up like a neighbourhood utilities provider that are bringing electricity to the remote regions. These solar energy projects are not a hi-tech operation, but they get the job done and that’s what you need to get started. Then I met a kid whose home just got its first operational light bulb and now she can study till late and educate herself. This is nothing less than a transformative power of a single lightbulb,” Letterman says in the video documentary.
Opportunities in solar energy in India
Letterman adds in his commentary, “When I first came here, all I saw was problems. But, now that I look at things, I see opportunities waiting to be explored. India isn’t stealing jobs from America. They are getting ready to invest $100 billion in solar energy in India and companies manufacturing solar panels, inverters and battery technologies in the US are getting huge orders from them to meet the massive demand for solar technology here.”
“In America, we’re certainly not as ambitious as India in clean energy. They have a national solar mission in here to guide their solar energy initiatives. Maybe we can learn something from India about it. Do we want our children to say to us one day – ‘hey, wait a minute. You knew this was a problem and you ignored it?’ I loved what Prime Minister Modi told me – ‘we are merely trustees of the future. Whatever we are using today, we are borrowing it from our future generations. If we misuse it, how are we going to repay that debt?’ I see all this and I can say now, ‘wow, this country really has the willpower to go all-out after solar power’,” Letterman adds.
Bringing it all together
Most people think that India is always looking for validation of its point by the west. However, David Letterman’s exploration of India, the national solar mission and the solar energy projects reflects her willpower to adopt cleaner, more efficient ways to meet the energy demands speaks a lot about us as a country. We are already on our way towards achieving energy security, the policies are in place to support these efforts. Now all we really need is for more people to understand what solar energy in India can do for them and for the future generations so that we can leave a cleaner environment for them to inherit.