Headline : A road map to transforming India’s energy Editorial 30th Aug’19 HindustanTimes
- Forty years ago, India barely had a car manufacturer, was way behind in the space race, and had an insignificant IT sector.
- Today, India is the world’s fourth largest car manufacturer, and is set to become only the fourth country to land on the moon.
- These achievements should be applauded, but India is just getting started.
India should play a significant role the energy sector:
- India today has a golden opportunity to play a prominent role in global energy as well.
Energy and economic development:
- Energy and economic development have been deeply intertwined.
- Access to affordable and reliable energy is fundamental to reducing poverty, improving health, increasing productivity, enhancing competitiveness and achieving social justice.
- In the last 30 years, India’s GDP has increased nearly tenfold, while the energy consumption over that period grew nearly 400% (with around 8% last year).
India to overtake China in energy consumption:
- By some estimates, global energy demand seems set to increase by a third.
- By some estimates, India will overtake China as the largest growth market for energy by the mid-2020s.
- This is significant, given that around 30% of the Indian population does not have access to modern sources of energy.
Concerns over emissions:
- More energy consumption tends to lead to more emissions.
- By 2040, India’s share of global emissions seems set to rise from around 7% to 13%, despite the great ambition shown from the government to address climate change.
Dual challenge of increasing energy needs and reducing emissions:
- More energy to improve lives, but with fewer emissions to help address climate change — is what we call the dual challenge.
India can play a leading role in addressing the dual challenge:
- India has the entrepreneurialism, ingenuity and a can-do attitude as well as the tools to reset its energy mix with the low-carbon fuel and power, and reimagine energy.
Ways to achieve this:
- Developing India’s domestic gas production:
- Good for economy:
- There exists huge opportunity with natural gas, in which India has a domestic resource potential of more than 100 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), which includes conventional, unconventional, and yet-to-find gas.
- This resource base has the potential to meet up to 50% of anticipated demand for gas through to 2050.
- So, developing India’s domestic gas production will help reduce energy imports, enable more investment and create jobs.
- Good for environment:
- Natural gas also has a lower carbon intensity per unit of energy than coal in power generation, and offers significant benefits for air quality.
- Longer term, natural gas can be used to produce hydrogen, and decarbonised using carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS).
- Good for economy:
- Ramping up renewables:
- There is also a big opportunity in renewables, where there are large untapped solar and wind resources.
- Cost of renewables is becoming increasingly competitive with fossil fuels.
- As such, these renewable resources could be further maximised to meet the three to four-fold power demand growth expected in India by 2050.
- They would progressively displace coal in electricity generation, which is important as coal emits about twice as much carbon emissions than gas.
- Decarbonising mobility:
- There is a third opportunity with vehicle electrification and the substitution of liquid fuels with CNG or LNG.
- Costs of light-duty electric car (on a total cost of ownership basis) could converge with conventional vehicles from 2035, and EVs (two and three-wheeler) are close to cost parity today.
- CNG is already competitive in medium and heavy-duty vehicles and LNG is attractive for long-distance trucking.
- Driving digital innovation:
- India also has opportunity in digital innovation, which could help to optimise the energy system and reduce energy demand by as much as 18% by 2050.
- There are opportunities in the field of transport, through autonomous vehicles, ride-sharing and intelligent traffic management systems.
- There are opportunities in buildings (through smart homes), in industry (through connected devices and advanced analytics), in transmission and distribution (though smart grid technologies) etc.
- With these initiatives, India could position itself as a leader in the energy transition.
- India could help address the dual challenge of increasing energy needs and reducing emissions:
GS Paper III: EconomySection : Editorial Analysis