Electricity is a critical constituent of the infrastructure affecting economic growth and social welfare. Availability of reliable and inexpensive power is critical for sustainable economic development. Without universal energy access, India will be hamstrung in its efforts to eradicate poverty, the overarching objective of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. Ensuring adequate and affordable clean energy access for all is an article of faith for us. This cannot be emphasised enough as the Conference of Parties (COP) takes place in Paris.
Given its double digit GDP growth aspirations, India’s electricity consumption is expected to accelerate. Historically, electricity has been generated in the developed countries using fossil fuels. It is likely that the use of fossil-based energy sources to generate electricity will continue in most countries, including India.
While coal will continue to be key, our effort is to ensure that each new power plant is more energy efficient. We have already taken several initiatives to reduce our carbon footprint. India is shifting to cleaner coal using super critical technology for coal-based power generation. We are replacing old, inefficient plants with modern, efficient coal-based plants. Stricter emission standards are also being contemplated. All this will require funds. Any global squeeze on funds for coal-based plants will be counterproductive.
India is redoubling its efforts towards clean energy at several levels. We are accelerating our efforts in India to manage the demand side of our requirement and are rapidly scaling up and expanding renewable energy to move towards a cleaner energy mix.
To promote energy efficiency, we are running the world’s largest efficient lighting programme with an aim to replace 770 million incandescent and CFL bulbs with efficient LED bulbs and also 35 million street lights over a 3-year period. This effort will help us reduce the peak-load demand by nearly 22.5 GW, save 114 billion units of electricity annually and bring about an annual reduction of 85 million tons in carbon dioxide emissions . Our LED programme has brought down the annual procurement cost of LEDs by about 74%.
Under the Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme (DELP), we have so far distributed over 27.5 million LED bulbs to consumers and over 422,000 street lights have been replaced under the Street Lights National Programme (SLNP), resulting in an estimated energy savings of about 3.25 billion units per year.
Our Labelling programme for marketed household appliances and other equipment allows consumers to make an informed choice about energy and cost savings. This is expected to significantly impact energy savings in the medium to long run.
India’s strategy on renewable energy is driven by the objectives of achieving energy security, increasing energy access and reducing the carbon footprint of the national energy systems. We expect that renewable energy will play a central role in bridging the current supply and demand gaps.
India has successfully created the positive outlook necessary to promote investment in, demand for, and supply of renewable energy. Between 2002 and 2015, the share of renewable installed capacity has increased from 3.9 GW to around 36 GW from a mix of sources including wind, small hydro, biomass / cogeneration, waste to power and solar power. India has already put in place one of the world’s largest renewable capacity expansion programmes.
India is undertaking a number of initiatives like up-scaling of targets for renewable energy capacity to 175 GW by 2021-22, which will result in the abatement of about 326 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year. Solar power is especially poised to take off thanks to India’s solar mission and the interest evinced by multilateral agencies and the private sector.
All countries must have a shared responsibility to leave behind a cleaner planet by expanding the scope of renewable energy. However, the capabilities of renewable energy in addressing the world’s energy needs are still limited. The high cost of generating renewable energy often obstructs efforts to tackle climate change. The limited technical and financial resources of developing countries for renewable energy further inhibit efforts to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Therefore, in India, sustainable power will have to be consciously de-linked from the preoccupation with fuel source type and encompass a judicious mix of conventional sources and renewables.
As a developing nation we would expect the Paris climate agreement to be in accordance with the principles of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) and equity. Developed countries should undertake larger emission cuts and provide adequate finance and technology to help developing nations. The principle of “Polluter Pays” must be respected.
We have our work cut out - India’s National Climate Change Action Plan looks at reducing by 2030 the amount of carbon dioxide produced for every dollar of GDP by 33- 35% from its 2005 level . It is expected that 40% of India’s total installed power generation capacity would be from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030. By then, we will also create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent through additional green cover.
India’s energy efforts are aimed at achieving ‘Electricity for All’, which would not be possible without large investments, infusion of new technology, availability of nuclear fuel, international support and private investments. We are making every effort to develop climate resilient infrastructure and reduce vulnerability to climate change.