January 4, 2018 Read More →

India Charts New, Cleaner Course For Energy Sector


It is estimated that nearly 240 million Indians currently do not have access to electricity. In many cases that also means a lack of access to adequate health care or educational opportunities. It is no surprise that, as nations have done throughout history, to solve its energy poverty problem, India turned to fossil fuels. However, as a nation still developing, and as the effects of climate change become ever more apparent, and as air in India fills with pollution, the country has the opportunity to adjust course, avoiding the mistakes of others.

There is currently a massive push in India to transform its still-developing energy system into one built on a foundation of sustainability. Several recent reports find that the nation is doing so with a fair amount of success, specifically in the solar industry. In this way, India’s energy system is one of very few things in the country that could potentially be characterized as both new and improved.

India is home to roughly 18% of the world’s population but uses only 6% of the world’s primary energy. According to an analysis by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the nation’s energy consumption nearly doubled between 2000 and 2015. “India’s economy, already the world’s third-largest, is growing rapidly and policies are in place to press ahead with the country’s [modernization] and an expansion of its manufacturing,” a 2015 IEA special report says.

India is the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and as such, its role in global efforts to address the issue of climate change has been significant. As a party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Paris Agreement, India has submitted a public declaration of its plan to mitigate the effects of climate change.

In its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) to the Paris Agreement, India vowed to “achieve about 40 percent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030.” Just a few of the efforts mentioned in the NDC that the national government intends to undertake to reach the 40% goal include:

  • Aim to achieve a target of 60 GW of wind power installed capacity by 2022. As of 2015, wind accounted for 23.76 GW of the nation’s renewable installed capacity.
  • Promote solar power and continue the nation’s solar expansion program. Installed solar power capacity has increased from 3.7 MW in 2005 to about 4,060 MW in 2015, a compound annual growth rate of greater than 100% during the decade. “The ambitious solar expansion programme seeks to enhance the capacity to 100 GW by 2022, which is expected to be scaled up further thereafter,” the NDC says.
  • Initiate programs to promote cleaner and more efficient use of biomass energy. Biomass currently constitutes 18% of the total primary energy use in India with 70% of the population dependent on it.
  • Improve the efficiency of the nation’s coal fleet.

More: India’s Ongoing Power Generation Course Correction

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