"I would like to congratulate Shell, CEEW and TERI for the remarkable work that they have done. The book will start a public debate towards developing long term sustainable policies to strengthen the Indian energy sector. It is a challenging time for policy makers with fluctuating fuel prices globally. The entire value chain of the energy sector is in need of innovation. There is a need for investment in exploration of oil and gas fields for a good energy mix," said Shri Suresh Prabhu, Hon'ble Minister for Railways, at the launch of the book 'Energizing India: Towards a Resilient and Equitable Energy System' in the capital today. The book argues that India's energy future would depend on four transitions: from traditional to modern energy, from rural to urban energy demand, greater integration into the global energy system, and technological choices that will be affected by the imperative of battling climate change.
The book (authored by Suman Bery, Arunabha Ghosh, Ritu Mathur, Subrata Basu, Karthik Ganesan and Rhodri Owen-Jones) is the result of a three-year long collaboration between three leading institutions: the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and Shell. The book focuses on India's energy system as a whole and highlights both the demand and supply sides of the energy system, laying special emphasis on the fuel mix dimension, which most directly affects both energy security and environmental sustainability between now and 2050.
India is in the midst of a huge transformation as the population and economy grows, income rises, manufacturing becomes a bigger part of the economy and the country becomes more urbanised. This growth will drive a sustained expansion of infrastructure for energy, urban development and transportation. If India is to build an energy infrastructure commensurate with ambitions to limit greenhouse gas emissions, it must now also seriously consider infrastructure using natural gas, hydropower and nuclear energy. The book finds that in the short to medium-term, despite a massive renewable energy revolution in India, fossil-based primary energy could increase from 2 to 4 times its current level by 2050.
This is because conventional options like gas, hydro and nuclear along with coal will continue playing an important role in supporting new renewables. Moreover, with renewables having little scope in being able to supply industrial heat, natural gas holds prominence as a cleaner alternative to the use of coal and diesel. The book further suggests that between now and 2050, transportation will continue to rely heavily on oil-based fuels in spite of gradual penetration of electric fuels and an increasing use of biofuels. Therefore, even as it gives a boost to renewable energy, India cannot veer away from fossil fuels significantly, at least in the short to medium term.
In the short term, to provide energy and not hinder economic growth, coal will be the most critical fuel, particularly if the highest priority is providing electricity to all those that require it. But the use of coal could peak by 2040 if cleaner alternatives progress as expected, so the need for assets to mine, handle and transfer coal may decline after that.
For renewables to make a significant contribution, any policy on power generation should go hand in hand with initiatives to electrify end-use technology (electricity currently makes up only a fifth of useful energy consumed). Even at this point, renewables will only diversify the supply mix. That said, when compared against a 'business as usual' scenario, India'sprojected deployment of energy from renewable sources is significant in terms of scale (potentially supplying up to a quarter of energy demand by 2050), performance of other countries, and the timelines within which current policies aspire to achieve large-scale deployment.