Date November 18, 2014 – 6:54AM Tom Allard – National Affairs Editor
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will invite Australia to play a key role in supplying India’s immense appetite for energy as its economy rapidly develops, using a landmark speech to Parliament on Tuesday to express support for coal and natural gas, but also renewable energy.
In an address to be made in English, the Indian leader will make the remarks as he calls for stronger economic ties between the two nations and enhanced co-operation in information technology, tourism, education and agriculture.
Mr Modi – seen by many Indians, including the diaspora in Australia, as a transformative leader for the giant nation – wants to bring power to India’s 300 million citizens without electricity while also building capacity to power its expanding industrial and Information technology sectors.
He is supporting a new mega-mine in central Queensland to be operated by India’s Adani Group but also sees a crucial role for wind and solar energy, along with natural gas and nuclear energy in addressing the country’s energy challenge.
“He wants to buy Australian coal but he is also a passionate supporter of renewable energy,” a senior Indian official told Fairfax Media.
According to Indian press reports, Mr Modi spoke forcefully for renewable energy, carbon pricing and proposed a “global virtual centre for clean energy research and development” at the G20 summit in Brisbane during sometimes fractious talks among world leaders on Sunday.
“I would propose that we set up a global virtual centre for clean energy research and development, with adequate public funding, which will fund collaborative projects in diverse sources of clean energy, smart grids, energy efficiency, etc,” he was quoted as saying.
Mr Modi also called for an ambitious and innovative effort to make renewable energy, especially solar energy, competitive with conventional energy.
As chief minister of the Indian state of Gujarat, Mr Modi pioneered a widely praised solar energy scheme.
Australia and India are negotiating a “comprehensive economic agreement” but the trade relationship is widely seen as poorly developed
Two-way trade between the countries was $15 billion in 2013, just one tenth of the trade between Australia and China.
Mr Modi will also use his parliamentary address to canvas the “commonalities” of the two countries, including democracy, cricket and Walter Burley Griffin.
The famous American architect who designed Canberra moved to the Indian city of Lucknow in his latter years, designing buildings and writing columns for the Pioneer newspaper.
He died in Lucknow in 1937, aged 61, and was buried there.
Almost 300,000 residents of Australia were born in India, according to the most recent census.
On Monday, Mr Modi addressed the Indian diaspora in Sydney, where 20,000 people from all over Australia attended the keenly anticipated event.