Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates has weighed in on India’s energy sector with a call to move away from coal-fired power.

In an interview on US television this week, Gates said the easiest and cheapest way for India to rapidly provide power to large numbers of people would be to rely on coal-fired power plants.

“We have no alternative that’s even close to as cheap, including reliability which is always a fundamental characteristic of energy systems,” he said. “You cannot power India as cheaply with the other things as you can with coal.”

However, he noted that “India is big enough, there’s enough people that … we won’t meet any of our climate change goals” if the nation continues to rely on coal.

As a potential solution, he called for the power sector to come up with new, innovative and affordable alternatives to coal-fired power.

“Only through innovation can you square the circle and say, should India electrify as fast as it can or should India avoid greenhouse gas emission which, even if they go forward, they won’t emit as much CO2 per person as we [presumably the US] have for more than a hundred years,” he said.