India to invest billions into clean energy initiatives

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Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced several new clean energy initiatives in India's annual federal budget speech Wednesday, saying "green growth" is a top priority for the country, reported The South Asian Times.
More than $8 billion (€7.3bn) will be invested in projects such as mangrove restoration in coastal regions, which help suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, converting waste into biogas and speeding up renewable energy initiatives.
Sitharaman said the injection of $4.3bn (€3.9bn) into India's energy transition will be channeled through the ministry of petroleum and natural gas to help India reach its goal of net zero emissions by 2070.
The new funds form part of the government's $550bn (€504bn) budget aimed at ramping up spending to stimulate economic growth and generate jobs ahead of the general election next year. Sitharaman mentioned the scaling up of clean energy for the economy and jobs within the first few minutes of her speech.
Sitharaman also proposed government incentives for energy storage systems in India that would aid round-the-clock renewable energy use and announced a new framework for pumped storage systems for hydropower.
She set out an additional $2.bn (€2.2bn) to facilitate new clean energy production in the Himalayan region of Ladakh, where electricity grid infrastructure remains a key sticking point.
Other programmes to incentivise the use of alternative, less-polluting fertilisers and to cut down on chemical fertilisers were also announced.
The move toward clean energy and away from fossil fuels has increasingly become a priority for India and nations around the world as countries try and limit global warming.
India's economy is projected to grow 7% in the fiscal year ending in March. The government forecasts growth of 6-6.5% next year.
The country's population is expected to overtake China's in size this year, and its economy last year surpassed that of the United Kingdom to become the world's fifth largest.
According to the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy, the unemployment rate stood at 8.3% in December, up from 6.5% in Jan 2022.
The government is aiming for a budget deficit of 5.9% of India's gross domestic product for the 2023-24 financial year, lower than the 6.4% for this fiscal year.

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