In this series we will touch upon the facts and figures related to (energy) consumption in India. We will also discuss about the scopes for resources that can help in meeting the ever increasing (energy) demands in the country.
Current Power Struggle (article 1 of consumption.IN)
The daily energy consumptions in India are quite different than that in Europe. Let’s see how. Say you wake up in the morning, get under a hot shower, enjoy your breakfast with tea, and drive to work. Until this point in India, you might not have used electricity from a standard power outlet. The water for the shower is heated by solar-panels, the breakfast is cooked with gas, and you might travel on an auto-rickshaw that is fuelled with natural gas. That’s right, only the alternative energy sources would have been used so far.
However, India is hungry for energy. The electricity consumption in India is currently around 600TWh annually, and it is all set to double over the next decade. It means that it would have surpassed the Russian energy consumption levels by then. The growing demands for energy do not just come from the urban areas, where car bookings and demand for other consumables are always on the rise. There are millions of people in India who do not even have access to electricity as yet. 404 million people in India live in rural areas, and 94% of them do not get electricity.
In order to meet the growing demands for power, India will have to adopt a mix of sustainable energy resources. Currently India is importing oil, coal, and gas at alarming rates.
• Oil Imports: 76% of the oil for consumption is imported, out of which 60% comes from the Middle East countries.
• Coal Imports: 20% of India’s coal consumption is imported mainly from Indonesia.
• Gas Imports: 19% of the gas consumption is imported mainly from Africa.
I asked a few questions with Mr. Debasish Choudhury from SEMI® is the global industry association serving the manufacturing supply chain for micro and nano electronics industries, including Photovoltaic. For your understanding, 1000MW = 1GW. As an example, the high-speed railway lines from Beijing to Shanghai consume 20 MW. This route stretches up to 1318 kms, with the capacity of carrying up to 1.050 people.
NexusNovus: Do you see opportunities in India for European SMEs of the renewable energy industry, or is it rather a game for only the big international players?
DPC: The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) is implementing a UNDP assisted Project for enhancing the ‘Access to Clean Energy’, which is primarily aimed at providing opportunities to European SMEs to participate in India’s rural renewable energy projects. The aim of the ‘Access to Clean Energy’ project is to accelerate the access to energy services, particularly for enhancing the livelihoods of the poor and marginalized people in the seven UNDAF states (Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh). To know more about the project, please visit www.ebtc.eu/energy.
NexusNovus: Which mix of energy sources is most likely to be realized to meet India’s energy demand in the near future (~ until 2050)?
DPC: The reforms initiated in India since the beginning of the nineties have led to rapid economic progress. Today, India is the fastest growing developing country, and its GDP is likely to experience an average growth rate of 8% over this decade. According to a Goldman Sachs study, India has the potential to show the fastest growth over the next 30 to 50 years. Growth rate could be higher than 5 percent over the next 30 years, and close to 5 percent as late as 2050, if the development progresses successfully.
Energy is the engine for growth. It supplements human labour and increases productivity in agriculture, industry, as well as in services. To sustain the growth rate in economy, the energy supply has to grow in tandem. For a large country like India with over one billion population and rapid economic growth rate, no single energy resource can provide solutions to all issues related to availability of fuel supplies and environmental impacts, particularly the climate change and health affecting factors. Therefore, it is necessary that all non-carbon emitting resources become an integral part of an energy mix. They should be as diversified as possible to ensure energy security to a country like India. Currently available sources are fossil fuels, renewable resources, and nuclear energy. However, all these sources will require increased levels of research, development, demonstration, and deployment.
NexusNovus: Do you see actual efforts being made by the Indian Government as a significant accelerator in terms of renewable energy usage?
DPC: India has a vast supply of renewable energy resources, and it has one of the largest programs in the world for deploying renewable energy products and systems. Indeed, it is the only country in the world to have an exclusive ministry for renewable energy development, the Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources (MNES). Since its formation, the Ministry has launched one of the world’s largest and most ambitious programs on renewable energy. In October 2006, MNES was renamed the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).
Once again, the government of India has taken a pioneering step for the welfare of humanity, and they have announced National Action Plan for Climate Change (NAPCC). The ambitious solar mission is called as Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM), and it is one of the eight missions under NAPCC. It proposes to generate 20 GW of solar power by 2022, and it is aimed at reducing the effects of climate change, and enhancing the country’s energy security.
The government’s efforts over the last 3 decades have created a noticeable difference. Today India has an installed renewable energy capacity of about 20 GW, which is around 11 percent of the country’s total installed power capacity, and it amounts for 4 percent of the electricity mix. The government aims to push it to over 20 percent in the next decade, with the RE capacity of over 70 GW.
NexusNovus: Private habits in India: Do you see signs of increased sensitivity in the Indian population towards the environmental or energy issues?
DPC: A good environmental sense has been one of the fundamental features of India’s ancient philosophy. However, during the last few decades global circumstances have forced our country into a situation where it is becoming increasingly difficult to practice lifestyles that do not push this planet towards disaster. During the last ten years, there has been a remarkable resurgence of this good environmental sense in this country. The growing environmental consciousness in this country is seen in both people and establishments.
NexusNovus: What would be the key motivators for an average Indian to become (more of) a supporter of environmental energy solutions?
DPC: It is imperative that the environmental consciousness preoccupies the minds of our people, as no amount of government intervention can reverse the ecological collapse. I see clear signs of that happening in India as well. Against this backdrop, we now have a system for environmental checks and balances in place. There is sufficient institutional, legislative and political strength, supported by responsive people to produce a practicable environmental culture. Even in the constitutional terms, the efforts towards protection of ecology look quite promising.
NexusNovus: What conditions would make a long term investment such as a solar energy solution become more attractive in India?
DPC: India’s solar energy program was started as early as the late seventies, but it has got a massive boost with the launch of the JN-NSM in January 2010. The ambitious target of installing 20 GW of solar power capacity (both solar PV and thermal) has provided a great momentum to the growth of the solar sector in India. Several new companies from India and abroad have begun their operations in India, and the existing companies are committed towards expanding their capacities. Some states like Gujarat and Rajasthan have also announced their own solar policies, thereby providing further impetus to the solar industry. Off-grid applications which are highly relevant to rural India are also receiving the due attention that they need. All these developments will help in providing huge opportunities for the growth in solar energy sectors.
At the end of 2011, installed solar PV generation capacity in India (including off grid, grid-connected, roof top etc.) have reached about 200 MW. The grid connected market which is driven by Solar RPOs, the REC mechanism, and government policy incentives will only grow further in the years ahead.
Talking about solar energy as long term investment, solar power’s unit price is competitive with the effective price of diesel based unit power, and it is being used in many telecom tower operations across the country. Also, solar power is a viable/effective solution for decentralised or local-grid applications in rural/semi-urban areas, where grid power is either not available at all, or is facing severe shortage. The availability of land for solar panel installations is not a constraint.
Let’s look at the outcome of the Batch-2, Phase-I allocation of grid connected PV power projects under Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM). The cost of solar power quoted by French project developer SolaireDirect is Rs.7.49 / kWh, which is almost equivalent to the power generated from imported coal by the thermal power plants in India. The price discovery mechanism through reverse bids has accelerated the journey towards grid parity even faster. Furthermore, the aggressive bidding for project allotment under Phase-II of JNNSM (2013-2017) would narrow the gap further, leading to grid parity even before the close of the JNNSM Phase-II.
NexusNovus: What role does the Bangalore city play in terms of renewable energies in India?
DPC: Bangalore has the largest deployment of rooftop solar water heaters in the country. These heaters are estimated to generate an energy equivalent of approximately 250 – 300 MW every day. Bangalore is also the first city in the country to offer an incentive program for residents using roof-top solar thermal systems, by providing a rebate on monthly electricity bills. These systems are now mandatory for all new structures.
Also, Bangalore houses many leading solar cell & module manufacturers namely TATA BP Solar, Emmvee Solar, Kotak Urja, BEL, HHV Solar, just to name a few. Additionally, the city now hosts a large number of global players from the solar eco-system sector, and their numbers will only continue to grow.
NexusNovus: Thanks Mr. Choudhury.