Indian Minister to Receive Penn’s Top Prize in Energy Policy

PHILADELPHIA — On October 19, 2018, the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design will award its fourth annual Carnot Prize to the Honorable Shri Piyush Goyal, India’s former minister of power and renewables and current minister of railways and coal. During his tenure, Goyal directed a fast-track effort to electrify 18,000 villages in remote parts of India—helping bridge the country’s vast energy divide.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) reports that in the year 2000, less than half of India’s population had access to electricity. Now, more than 80 percent of the population has access to electricity. If this pace continues, India will have universal electrification by 2020, “one of the largest successes in the history of electrification.”

“Minister Goyal’s efforts demonstrate what it takes to create a just energy transition—courage amidst complexity,” said Mark Alan Hughes, founding faculty director of the Kleinman Center. “Providing power to the world’s energy poor turns on the lights—and also empowers education, sanitation, and health care. It closes the gap between the haves and have nots.”

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. While India has relied heavily on coal to power up the country—like China in recent years and the United States decades ago—India’s coal expansion appears to have peaked and the permanent transition to cleaner energy is underway.

Goyal has successfully retired outdated coal plants while launching an ambitious  renewable energy expansion program. 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.

“We applaud the Honorable Minister Goyal for his courageous work in crafting policy capable of meeting the biggest challenges in energy,” said Frederick Steiner, Dean and Paley Professor at PennDesign.

Speaking from his ministerial offices in New Delhi, Goyal said, “It is both a personal honor as well as a tribute to the efforts of all involved in this great work throughout India to be recognized with the Carnot Prize by the University of Pennsylvania.”

The award ceremony will kick off with a lecture in honor of the recipient by a Penn faculty member. Following the lecture, Goyal will receive this year’s Carnot Prize. While at Penn, Goyal will also have a recorded podcast conversation with Energy Policy Now host Andy Stone, meet with Penn students with interests in energy and India, and be a featured guest on the radio talk show Knowledge@Wharton.


Piyush Goyal is a member of India’s upper house of parliament and serves as the minister of railways and coal. He previously oversaw power, coal, new and renewable energy, and mines.

During Goyal’s tenure, India has seen transformational changes in its power sector—including the electrification of nearly 18,000 villages in some of the most remote and inaccessible parts of the country. Goyal’s other projects include rolling out a comprehensive power sector reform plan, the world’s largest LED bulb distribution program, and the world’s largest renewable energy expansion program.

Over his 34-year political career, Goyal has held several positions in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), where he served as national treasurer and also head of the party’s communications committee during India’s 2014 general elections.

Goyal studied accounting and law at Mumbai University. In addition to public service, he was an investment banker and advised top corporations on management strategy and growth. He also served on the boards of the State Bank of India—the country’s largest commercial bank—and Bank of Baroda.

His father, the late Vedprakash Goyal was India’s union minister of shipping and the BJP’s national treasurer for over two decades. His mother, Chandrakanta Goyal, was elected three times to the Maharashtra state legislative assembly.

Goyal is married to Seema, who is a social worker, and he has two children who currently live in the United States: Dhruv works in New York, and Radhika studies at Harvard.


The Carnot Prize is named in memory of French scientist Sadi Carnot, who in 1824 published Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire, which is recognized as the first statement of what is now known as the second law of thermodynamics. Carnot recognized that the power of the steam engine would produce a great revolution in human development. The Carnot Prize is intended to honor those leading revolutions in energy policy to further progress and prosperity.


The Kleinman Center for Energy Policy operates within the School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania. Its mission is to create the conditions for policy innovation that support a just and efficient transition to sustainable energy.


The mission of the University of Pennsylvania School of Design is to prepare students to address complex sociocultural and environmental issues through thoughtful inquiry, creative expression, and innovation. As a diverse community of scholars and practitioners, we are committed to advancing the public good—locally, nationally, and globally—through art, design, planning, and preservation. 

Media Contact:
Lindsey Samahon
Director of Communications
Kleinman Center for Energy Policy