New Delhi: Union Coal Minister Piyush Goyal will receive the University of Pennsylvania's top prize in energy policy for his leadership in reforming India's power sector, spearheading efforts to fast-track electrification of thousands of remote villages and expanding renewable energy in the country.

The Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design will award its fourth annual Carnot Prize to Goyal, the former minister of power and renewable energy, on October 19.

According to a press release from The Kleinman Center, Goyal is being recognised for directing a fast-track effort to electrify 18,000 villages in remote parts of India, “helping bridge the country's vast energy divide.”

It said Goyal has also been instrumental in reforming India's power markets and expanding renewable energy, in an effort to meet the country's Paris Agreement targets.

It lauded Goyal for successfully retiring outdated coal plants while launching an ambitious renewable energy expansion programme. "Although India is the world's fourth top CO2 emitter, the country is currently at 20% renewables and is on solid footing to reach a 40% renewable mix by 2030,” it said.

The founding faculty director of the Kleinman Center Mark Alan Hughes said Goyal's efforts “demonstrate what it takes to create a just energy transition — courage amidst complexity.

Providing power to the world's energy poor turns on the lights—and also empowers education, sanitation, and healthcare. It closes the gap between the haves and have nots.”

While at Penn, Goyal will also meet with Penn students with interests in energy and India.

The Consulate General of India in New York said in a press release that during his visit to the US from October 19 to 22, Goyal will interact with members of Indian diaspora during an event in New Jersey and speak on growth and economic reforms in India at Columbia University.

The Carnot prize is the Kleinman Center’s annual recognition of distinguished contributions to energy policy through scholarship or practice. 

The prize is named after French scientist Sadi Carnot, who in 1824 published Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire, which became the basis for the second law of thermodynamics. Carnot recognised that the power of the steam engine would “produce a great revolution” in human development. The Carnot Prize is intended to honour those who have revolutionized our understanding of energy policy.

In 2017, the prize was awarded to Gina McCarthy, an American environmental health and air quality expert who served as the 13th Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from 2013 to 2017

With agency inputs