Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday said that if India invests enough in research, it can be the world leader in renewable energy.
"If we invest in research in renewable energy we can be world leaders," he said, adding that China had taken a lead in the field and "are 10 years ahead of us and the biggest suppliers of renewable panels and machines".
"An American professor recently told me that our country is ahead of them in renewable energy. We need to (invest in) everything -- hardware, software," Javadekar said at the opening of the Sumant Sinha Renew Centre of Excellence -- a hub for renewable energy research at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi.
The centre has been set up with funding from IIT alumnus and entrepreneur Sumant Sinha, son of former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha and brother of Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha. He set up Renew Power, focused on renewables, in 2011.
The minister said that science and innovation are a continuous process and there is never a moment when one can say this is the last day of research.
He said when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 100GW target for solar energy, everyone was shocked and said it was impossible.
"We started our journey with solar power and renewable energy with Rs 19 per unit... now it has come down to below four rupees. We have made tremendous progress in renewables. And as the demand grows, prices come down. This is what happened to LEDs," Javadekar said.
He said that the research centre was an excellent example of alumni giving back to their institutes and praised Sinha for setting up a centre where IIT students will get hands-on research experience.
IIT Delhi Director Ramgopal Rao acknowledged the contribution of alumni who have been investing in their alma mater in various ways and said that in the last one year, the institute has seen an almost 100 per cent increase in the sponsored research.
"The increased investment has shown in the improved ranking of the institute, which was ranked 172 in QS World Ranking this year," Rao said.
Hoping to be ranked in the top 100 institutes of learning in the future soon, he said that three other similar centres of excellence were in the pipeline in collaboration with the Defence Research and Development Organisation, Tata Consultancy Services and the Automation Association of Industries and the Ministry of Heavy Industries.