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India and its Energy Security - Where is the Charge?

“Roti, Kapda, Makaan” (Food, clothing and shelter), the famous dialogue from silver screens makes us assume that life is content if we are able to secure the said things but seems the narrative was put across differently. Education and good healthcare are fundamental to a thriving and progressively north-looking nation. But how are they made to function, function well; one fundamental aspect is ‘Energy or our Electricity’ needs. Imagine, a house (Makaan) is made but without electricity, it is incomplete. Clothing (Kapda) can’t be thought of as made by looms alone, so to suffice a nation of billion plus, we need machines running on electricity.

Image Courtesy: Pixabay

The same goes for education, we need books to be published, computers to run; fans and lights to be switched ON while in school/college; electricity forms a fundamental aspect here as well.

And thus comes the debate of equity, the equitable distribution of resources. Rich nations achieved these basics many decades ago and countries like India are aspiring for it now. Of late, debates at national/international forums are revolving around these very ‘Parity issues. We celebrated electricity reaching each village, every hamlet. In modern times, it is almost a deprivation, if we don’t have electricity made available to everyone almost akin to the ‘Right to Food and Right to Education’ considering its usage.

Governments understand this well and hence have been advocating for ‘Energy Security’. But how to find this security when resources are getting scarce with every passing day, and energy requirements are increasing? The peak electricity demand is expected to reach 229 GW up from 211GW last year, imagine, how to bridge this gap given all the supply chain constraints, renewable sources/generation part procurement issues, and discomfort financial health. Then there are minion issues as well that become big if not given attention like the transportation of fuel. Railway tracks were used for other items with the COVID supply chain given priority and now with ship transportation being used, the cost has increased from 4400 Rs per tonne to 7300 Rs per tonne, imagine the extra burden falling on generators, when their financial health is already in the red.

So, where is the ray of hope?

Energy efficiency is the key.

Image Courtesy: Pixabay

It is considered the lowest-hanging fruit; we just need to pluck it. Households, industries, and institutions can be powerhouses of 5–8% savings just by taking small measures in their day-to-day usage of electric appliances. Imagine, one unit saved here is three units saved at generation and even more on the resource input side like usage of gas or coal. New and green technology like Hydrogen, fuel cells, and battery storage are currently under experiments for big-scale deployment, hope there is more harmony among nations for tech transfer so as to have a more accelerated and acceptable deployment across the global north and south.

As has happened with mobile and defense manufacturing, India is envisaged to become a solar module manufacturing hub with an outlay of 14000 cr. incentive to kick start these industries which would produce 38000 MW worth of energy in times to come with modules made in these mega factories. In the wind energy sector, we are a net exporter of gears, drives, and blades, thus making us stand tall in the world’s supply chain for this sector. In all, these steps are also going to provide ‘Green Jobs’ for more than 40,000 people directly and 60,000 plus indirectly in maintenance deployment and after-sales-related issues.

Overall, it seems we are trending in the right direction but to sum it all up, our own ‘mindful’ energy usage would be a showcase to the world on how to follow suit. Let’s be the source of charge to the world.

About the Author

Bhavesh Swami is an energy advocate who envisions India to tread on sustainability by having reliance on renewable energy solutions. Currently, he is working as the Lead — Energy in The Climate Reality Project — India & South Asia branch. He has more than seventeen years of experience working with national/international development agencies, multilateral organizations like World Bank and Global Environment Facility (The GEF), Govt bodies, finance, policy institutes, and NGOs in various capacities. He helped set the ball rolling for NCR’s biggest Renewable Energy Park in Gurgaon, a collective effort by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, the Haryana Government, and ADEME, The French Development Agency. Working on the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, Govt. of India project, he helped percolate benefits of resource efficiency among the Indian SME fraternity. His project with Indian industries has helped reduce 2 million tons of CO2 over its cumulative timeframe. These efforts got featured in India’s submission at UNFCCCs at COP15 as a ‘Project worth emulating’. He is a Climate Reality leader, Mentor lead and keeps an active engagement with a range of stakeholders including students, teachers, high-level govt. officials and civic society representatives at national and international levels on the subject of clean energy and climate change.

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