Not to downplay the challenges — and opportunities — we are facing here in the U.S., or that many are facing in less developing countries around the world, here are a few thought-provoking points from a recent survey of India published in The Economist magazine. I have not independently verified but have little reason to question them:
- Discussing the Indian government's enormous subsidies for fertilizer, gasoline and kerosene, which are intended to keep prices low for consumers: "the more ruinous kerosene subsidy is likely to remain as long as most poor Indians have no access to electricity."
- How many is "most"? Six hundred million Indians have no access to "mains electricity", that is, the grid.
- Even then, in 2007, "peak demand [for electricity] outstripped supply by almost 15%."
- When power is cut-off India's powerful computer services firms "switch on their generators, but factories shut down."
- The World Bank estimates "9 percent of potential industrial output in India is lost to power cuts."
- "Thirty-five percent" of the power that is generated "is stolen."
You can access the whole survey on the world's largest democracy here.