India’s Modi puts his country’s faith in technology for ‘inclusive growth’

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gives a speech at the World Government Summit in Dubai on Sunday. (AP)
Updated 12 February 2018
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India’s Modi puts his country’s faith in technology for ‘inclusive growth’

DUBAI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched an eloquent advocacy of the power of technology to reduce poverty and bring about “inclusive growth for everyone” at the World Government Summit in Dubai.

Modi, who had previously addressed thousands of his compatriots at the Dubai Opera, told the summit that 21st century technology was essential for his country to face its big challenges: Poverty, unemployment, housing, education and natural disasters.

“Technology, from the Stone Age to the industrial revolution to the digital revolution, has fundamentally altered the condition of man for the better. It is a source of disruptive change, empowering men and women, minimizing government and maximizing governance,” he said.

But he warned that governments have a responsibility to see that technology is not used for negative ends.

“It is the job of governments to ensure that the power of technology is used for the good of the common man. Technology has got to be a constructive, positive force. Man sometimes fashions technology into destructive and violent areas, like when cyberspace is used for the spread of extremism.”

In a speech preceded by traditional Indian dancing and studded with references in Sanskrit, the ancient Indian language, Modi said: “Sometimes it seems like man is making the cardinal mistake of using technology to come into conflict with nature. Man has to coexist with nature, as India has done with yoga.”

It was his second visit to the UAE since he became prime minister in 2014. He said the UAE was a “home from home” for 3.3 million Indian workers.

“The vision of Dubai is backed by technology, innovation and enterprise, but it is not confined to the laboratories. It is applied in the real world, in Masdar (Abu Dhabi’s sustainable city) and the Future Accelerator in Dubai.”

He added: “In establishing ministries of happiness and the future, the UAE has recognized the idea of maximizing human happiness.”

Modi highlighted India’s achievements in biometric profiling, linking identities to financial details and mobile phone numbers, which he said was leading to the creation of a “cashless society” in his country, and also the commitment to solar energy use and Internet-based “long distance” education.


Saudi energy minister compares electric vehicle ‘hype’ to peak oil misconceptions

Updated 15 October 2018
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Saudi energy minister compares electric vehicle ‘hype’ to peak oil misconceptions

  • Khalid Al-Falih on Monday questioned what he described as the “hype” of the electric vehicle market
  • Compared it to past misconceptions around the theory of peak oil

LONDON: Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih on Monday questioned what he described as the “hype” of the electric vehicle market and compared it to past misconceptions around the theory of peak oil.
He told the CERAWeek energy gathering by IHS Markit in New Delhi that petrol and diesel engines would co-exist with emerging electric and hydrogen fuel cell technologies for much longer than widely expected.
Miscalculations around the pace of electrification could create “serious” risks around global energy security, he said.
“Conventional vehicles today, despite all the hype, represent 99.8 percent of the global vehicle fleet. That means electric vehicles with 0.2 percent of the fleet, only substitute about 30,000 barrels per day of oil equivalent of a total global oil demand of about 100 million barrels.
“Even if those numbers increase by a factor of 100 over the next couple of decades, they would still remain negligible in the global energy mix.”
He said: “History tells us that orderly energy transformations are a complex phenomenon involving generational time frames as opposed to quick switches that could lead to costly setbacks.”
In another broadside aimed at electric vehicles, the Saudi energy minister highlighted past misconceptions about global energy demand growth — and specifically the notion of “peak oil.”
“I remember thought leaders within the industry telling us that oil demand will peak at 95 million barrels per day. Had we listened to them and not invested . . . imagine the tight spot we would be in today.”
“Let’s also remember that in many parts of the world, roughly three fourths of the electricity, which would also power electric vehicles, is currently generated by coal, including here in India. So you could think of any electric vehicle running in the streets of Delhi as essentially being a coal-powered automobile.”
“When it comes to renewables, the fundamental challenge of battery storage remains unresolved — a factor that is essential to the intermittency issue impacting wind and solar power. Therefore the more realistic narrative and assessment is that electric vehicles and renewables will continue to make technological and economic progress and achieve greater market penetration — but at a relatively gradual rate and as a result, conventional energy will be with us for a long, long time to come.”