Affordable and Clean Energy for All

by Apr 18, 2024Science & Technology0 comments

Taking India to a developed country status while realising the clean energy transition is a critical challenge


Climate change has become an existential threat to mankind and so eliminating carbon-di-oxide emission has become a collective responsibility of the countries of the world.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC), an intergovernmental body of the United Nations, has recommended that global warming should be restricted to 1.50C above the temperature existing in the preindustrial era to keep things in reasonable control. Its assessments predict this limit to be breached between 2030 and 2052 following the prevailing trends. It also recommended that staying below 1.5°C in 2100 will require cuts in GHG emissions of 45 percent below 2010 levels by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has led the world in setting a target reaching net-zero by 2070. The Government of India has sponsored many studies on suggesting ways to do that.

It was in this context that a report titled “Synchronizing energy transitions towards possible Net-Zero for India: Affordable and clean energy for All” prepared by IIM Ahmedabad as part of a study project which was sanctioned in November 2021 by the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India with part-funding (one-third) from Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) was launched early this month ( April 3) at Delhi.

The report was launched by Prof. Ajay Kumar Sood, Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA) to the Government of India in presence of dignitaries Dr. V. K. Saraswat, Member, NITI Aayog; Dr. A. K. Mohanty, Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission (AEC); Shri P. A. Suresh Babu, Distinguished Scientist and Director (HR), NPCIL who joined on behalf of CMD, NPCIL; Dr. (Mrs.) Parvinder Maini, Scientific Secretary, Office of PSA. Dr. Anil Kakodkar, Chancellor, Homi Bhabha National Institute (HBNI) and former Chairman, AEC was the Guest of Honour and he had joined the meeting online.

A need was felt to undertake an analytical study on the energy transition required towards a net-zero energy basket for India. Accordingly, the study was sanctioned with the objective of conducting a comprehensive study with rigorous methods for minimizing the cost of power at consumer end and to work out an optimum mix for all sources of power, aiming for net-zero emission.

The project team at IIM Ahmedabad led by Prof. Amit Garg, Public Systems Group, has successfully completed the study, under the guidance of an expert group constituted by the Office of PSA, having experts from diverse sectors of power generation including coal, nuclear, solar, wind, biofuels, etc. The expert committee is chaired by Dr. R. B. Grover, Emeritus Professor, HBNI and Member, AEC, and the other members are Dr. K. Balaraman, former Director General, National Institute of Wind Energy; Dr. Bharat Bhargava, Former Director General, ONGC Energy Centre; Shri S. C. Chetal, Former Director, Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research and Ex-Mission Director, AUSC (Advanced Ultra Super Critical) Mission; Dr. Rajeev Sukumaran, Senior Principal Scientist and Head, Biofuels and Biorefineries Section, National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology; Shri B. V. S. Sekhar, Associate Director (CP&CC), NPCIL and Ms. Remya Haridasan, Scientist ‘D’, Office of PSA. After rigorous review by the expert group, the report was independently reviewed by Tata Consulting Engineers Limited which was a further value-addition and the final document was launched at the meeting.

The report attempts to answer key questions related to India’s energy trajectory such as how much energy does India need to achieve high value of Human Development Index (HDI); what are pathways to achieve this; what are the energy mix projections for this until 2070 (our declared net-zero target year); what would be the cost of electricity to the end user; what would be the carbon emissions until 2070; what would be the investments required for energy transitions towards net-zero at 2070; estimation of other challenges and opportunities (RE integration, requirement of critical minerals, Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS), natural gas, ethanol, hydrogen) in energy transitions towards achieving net-zero in 2070.

The main conclusions of the report are given below:

• There is no silver bullet to achieve net-zero. The transition needs multiple pathways to be adopted with co-existence of myriad technologies in our energy basket.

• Coal is projected to continue until the next two decades as the backbone of the Indian energy system.

• Net-zero is not possible without substantial nuclear power and Renewable Energy (RE) generation by 2070.

• To achieve net-zero energy systems by 2070, the electricity sector will need to decarbonize well before that.

• India’s emissions would range between 0.56 btCO2 and 1.0 btCO2 in 2070. It is expected that the remaining gap in emissions will be offset through sequestration in forestry and tree cover as envisaged in our Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

• Additionally, the coal phase-down will require active policies on critical minerals and carbon dioxide removal technologies.

• Clean, affordable electricity at low levelized cost of electricity (for consumers) can be achieved in net-zero pathways, especially with a focus on nuclear power and renewable power.

• Widespread electrification of end-use sectors i.e upto 47-52% electricity share in Total Final Electricity Consumption (TFEC) compared to 18% at present.

• Financial requirements during 2020-2070 would be to the tune of Rs 150-200 lakh Crore (about US$ 2-2.5 trillion, or US$ 40-50 billion/year). Considerable financial flows must be international.

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