By Mathews Raju*
India’s power sector is highly dependent on thermal and hydroelectric power plants. Thermal power plants mainly use fossil fuels like coal or oil leading to increased pollution and carbon emission. Hydroelectric plants tap energy from water reservoirs, which destroy the natural habitat.
The increasing carbon footprint and environmental degradation has paved the way for energy transition in the country. It is the transition towards a more inclusive, sustainable, affordable and secure energy system that provides solutions to energy related challenges, while creating value for business and society.
The Energy Triangle
The World Economic Forum (WEF) ranked India 78th in the Energy Transition Index. This is a performance index, where 126 countries are ranked based on 18 indicators that come under three core dimensions – energy access and security, environmental sustainability, and contribution to economic growth and development. This is referred to as the Energy Triangle. Countries with the highest transition readiness scores lead in the ranking. Transition readiness involves availability of investment and capital, effective regulation and political commitment, stable institutions and governance, supportive infrastructure, human capital and ability of current energy system to accommodate change. Sweden topped the index, followed by Norway and Switzerland.
Key findings of the report:
· Over the last five years, more than 80 per cent of countries improved their energy systems, but further effort is needed to resolve the world’s energy related challenges.
• Countries can foster progress in three ways – by establishing favourable conditions for energy system stakeholders, by targeting improvement across all triangle dimensions, and by pursuing improvement levers with synergistic impact across the system.
• Countries follow different transition paths and need to develop country specific roadmaps. Comparative analysis among peers can highlight opportunities for improvement.
• Removal of fossil fuel subsidies and reduction of energy intensity showed synergistic impact on energy triangle.
India is one of the largest consumers and emitters of greenhouse gases. Between 2013 and 2018, the country’s performance score improved by 5.6 per cent due to improved energy access, reduced subsidies and reduced import costs. India has the largest government mandated renewable energy programme, with a target of 175 GW renewable energy capacities by 2022. The country plans to shift to electric vehicles by 2030, and has cancelled the construction of nearly 14 GW of coal-fired power stations. However, there are no improvements in technical and commercial losses.
In the Energy Transition Index, India has scored 15 percentage points below average in economic development and growth, 9 percentage points in environmental sustainability and average points in security and access.
Subsidies for solar devices are making solar energy cheaper in India, but transitioning from traditional methods of energy conversion has caused huge job losses in the sector.
*Mathews Raju is Programme Intern with CPPR. Views expressed by the author is personal and does not reflect that of CPPR.