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India’s Transition To Cleaner Energy – IMPRI Impact And Policy Research Institute

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“India Transition Journey To Cleaner Energy”

Session Report
Priyanka Negi

Understanding the Nuances of Climate Change in the Indian Subcontinent: Impact and Way Forward is an Online International Monsoon School Program, a Six-Week Immersive Online Introductory Certificate Training Course from August-September 2023 by IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute. An informative and interactive discussion on “India’s Transition Journey To Cleaner Energy” was held by Dr. Aditya Gusain, Principle Environmental Specialist, Environment Management Centre, Mumbai on September 2, 2023.

Introduction

Dr. Aditya commenced his highly informative session by introducing participants to the dynamic world of Mentimeter, an interactive presentation software designed to foster real-time engagement. This innovative tool allowed participants to actively partake in a quiz thoughtfully prepared by Dr. Aditya, setting the stage for a remarkably interactive session that would leave a lasting impact. The session commenced with Dr. Aditya’s insightful exploration of the diverse backgrounds of the participants and their initial knowledge on the topic. This introductory phase served as a valuable foundation for gauging the audience’s familiarity with the subject matter and tailoring the session accordingly. Subsequently, he meticulously outlined the trajectory of his presentation, ensuring participants had a clear roadmap to follow.

Global CO2 Emissions

Dr. Aditya embarked on this enlightening journey by shedding light on the compelling reasons
driving the imperative need to transition to cleaner energy sources. He eloquently articulated the rise in greenhouse gas emissions as the primary catalyst for this shift, with a particular focus on the alarming surge in CO2 concentration. As the audience keenly absorbed this critical information, they were primed for a deep dive into the multifaceted world of clean energy.

The presentation continued with Dr. Aditya’s comprehensive breakdown of the contributions of various sectors to global CO2 emissions. Through vivid charts and compelling statistics, he showcased the power sector’s prominent role, closely followed by industry, transport, and buildings. This data-driven approach not only informed the audience but also instilled a sense of urgency, underlining the pressing need for action.

The global emission scenario took center stage as Dr. Aditya expertly elucidated the critical
importance of achieving a 50% reduction in emissions to align with the ambitious 2030 goals.
Additionally, he underscored the significance of a 25-30% reduction to stay on course for the
below 2°C trajectory. These benchmarks served as beacons, guiding the audience’s
understanding of the formidable challenges ahead.

Energy Transition

The discussion smoothly transitioned to the heart of the matter – energy transition. Dr. Aditya
skillfully elucidated this complex concept, emphasizing the gradual shift from carbon-dependent to low-carbon energy sources. He astutely highlighted that this transition was far from an abrupt change but rather a gradual, ongoing process shaped by a convergence of environmental, economic, and social factors. Introducing the audience to green energy, also known as clean, sustainable, or renewable energy, Dr. Aditya illuminated its minimal environmental impact. Solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, low-impact hydroelectricity, and select biomass sources were among the illustrious cast of clean energy sources presented. This segment left participants inspired by the limitless potential of sustainable alternatives.

Need for Energy Transition

With the foundation firmly established, the presentation delved into the compelling reasons
behind the imperative need for this energy transition. Dr. Aditya placed climate change at the
forefront, highlighting the escalating global temperatures driven by the release of greenhouse
gasses into the atmosphere. The power sector emerged as the primary source of these
emissions, further underlining the urgency of change.

Beyond climate change, the discussion encompassed energy security and access, especially
for regions devoid of dominant energy sources. Dr. Aditya masterfully articulated how alternative energy sources could bridge these gaps. He also shone a spotlight on areas where grid electricity remained impractical, highlighting the critical importance of alternative sources in such contexts. The multifaceted challenges posed by emissions from conventional energy sources on human health came into sharp focus.

Dr. Aditya painted a vivid picture of the detrimental impact on the well-being of individuals and communities, underscoring the undeniable link between energy choices and public health. The far-reaching impacts of energy transition were examined in detail, covering critical aspects
such as international security, socio-economic development, regional integration, and environmental sustainability. Participants were treated to a comprehensive view of the
transformative potential of cleaner energy sources.

India’s Energy Scenario

With a solid understanding of the global landscape, the presentation seamlessly transitioned to
India’s unique energy scenario. Dr. Aditya emphasized that India’s power sector stood as the
largest contributor to CO2 emissions, with coal-fired power plants bearing the brunt of
responsibility. As he guided participants through India’s evolving energy landscape, he
highlighted the nation’s remarkable journey.

The staggering tripling of India’s energy demand over the past three decades painted a vivid
picture of the nation’s rapid growth. Dr. Aditya showcased the evolution of energy sources, with traditional biomass gradually giving way to coal and oil, which had become the dominant energy sources. This evolution underscored the urgency of transitioning to alternative energy sources to chart a sustainable future.

In the current scenario, coal capacity growth was slowing down, while solar PV and wind were
on the rise. The share of variable renewables installed capacity had doubled since 2014, a
testament to India’s commitment to embracing cleaner energy alternatives. The growing trend of investments in renewables, driven by policies and incentives promoting the transition, was an encouraging sign. Dr. Aditya further elaborated on the dominance of solar and large hydropower plants among renewable energy sources. His expertise shone through as he navigated the intricacies of India’s energy landscape, leaving participants with a comprehensive understanding of the nation’s energy transition journey.

Government Initiaves and Policies

The presentation ventured into the realm of government initiatives and policies, shedding light
on India’s significant commitments and pledges. At the 26th Conference of Parties (CoP 26) in
Glasgow in November 2021, India made a resounding Net Zero Commitment by 2070. Dr. Aditya elucidated the key commitments, including increasing non-fossil energy capacity to 500 GW, fulfilling 50% of energy requirements from renewable sources, reducing the carbon
intensity of the economy by 45%, and curbing total projected carbon emissions by 1 billion
tonnes.

With participants hanging on his every word, Dr. Aditya meticulously detailed the major
initiatives and steps taken by the Government of India (GOI) to accelerate the nation’s transition, powered by green energy. Major schemes such as PMUY, UDAY, FAME, PM-
KUSUM, ISA, PLI, and more were brought to the forefront, showcasing GOI’s commitment to
facilitating this momentous shift. Dr. Aditya extended an invaluable invitation to participants to explore the Climate and Energy Dashboard by NITI Aayog, a treasure trove of data on climate and energy. This resource would serve as a valuable compass for those seeking to delve deeper into the complexities and nuances of climate and energy issues.

The presentation’s momentum continued unabated as Dr. Aditya highlighted major schemes
and steps announced in the Union Budget 2023. Initiatives like GOBARdhan and waste-to-
energy plants were unveiled, offering participants a glimpse into the nation’s commitment to
harnessing the transformative power of clean energy. The session segued into a discussion of the formidable challenges India faces on its transition journey.

Challenges Surrounding Electrification of the Transport Sector

The session continued with an exploration of the challenges surrounding the electrification of
the transportation sector. Dr. Aditya thoughtfully highlighted the current limitations of electric
transportation, particularly in heavy-duty transport, shipping, and aviation. Additionally, hard-to- abate sectors posed unique challenges, further complicating the transition. The specter of climate change-induced stressors, ranging from heatwaves to floods, added a
layer of complexity to India’s transition journey. Dr. Aditya painted a vivid picture of the climate- related challenges that the nation must navigate.

Dr. Aditya skillfully articulated these challenges, encompassing a high reliance on imported energy or fuels, technological limitations, and inadequate infrastructure, including power systems and integration. Policy framing emerged as another significant challenge, with its complexities and the imperative need for broad stakeholder engagement. Dr. Aditya emphasized the critical role of private investments, necessitating effective channels for directing investments where they were most needed.

Future Outlook of India’s Clean Energy Transition

The session’s final segment delved into the future outlook of India’s clean energy transition. Dr. Aditya eloquently articulated key points, highlighting the critical need for women’s empowerment and the reduction of gender disparities to ensure a just transition. He emphasized the expansion and promotion of clean energy supply chains as an integral component of India’s energy future. The nurturing of university-level innovations emerged as a powerful lever for advancing India’s clean energy transition in an economically feasible manner. Dr. Aditya urged the adoption and promotion of public transportation, encompassing the purchase of more buses, the implementation of e-buses, bus corridors, and bus rapid transit systems, as well as digitization efforts in public transportation.

Strengthening emission standards was another pivotal aspect of India’s transition journey. Dr.
Aditya emphasized the need for robust standards that would help the nation align with its clean energy goals. The presentation unveiled a vision of supporting India’s manufacturing capacity (Make in India) and technological superiority. Dr. Aditya underscored the importance of fostering a strong, self- sufficient green economy that would position India as a globally competitive green energy export hub.

He also reflected on the benefits of transitioning to cleaner energy sources. Dr. Aditya expounded upon the economic benefits, projecting a substantial boost to India’s annual GDP by 2036, potentially reaching 4.7%. The creation of approximately 15 million new jobs by 2047 promised a brighter economic future. The environmental benefits of reduced greenhouse gas emissions and improved air quality resonated deeply with participants. Dr. Aditya painted a vivid picture of a cleaner, healthier India, free from the shackles of environmental degradation.

Job creation took center stage as Dr. Aditya highlighted that investing in the energy transition
would create three times more jobs than similar investments in fossil fuels. This revelation
underscored the transformative potential of clean energy for the nation’s workforce. Enhanced energy security and reduced reliance on fossil fuel imports featured prominently in the discussion. Dr. Aditya underscored the importance of fostering a self-sufficient green economy that would insulate India from the vulnerabilities associated with heavy reliance on energy imports.

Conclusion

The session culminated in a poignant reflection on decoupling emissions from economic growth, a critical milestone in India’s journey towards a sustainable future. Dr. Aditya’s expertise shone as he navigated the complexities of this challenge, offering participants valuable insights. A just transition, characterized by labor and social protection policies, underscored the commitment to ensuring that no one was left behind on this transformative journey. As the presentation drew to a close, Dr. Aditya graciously engaged with participant queries, further enriching the session with his expertise and insights.

In conclusion, Dr. Aditya’s session was a remarkable journey through the complex and
multifaceted world of clean energy transition. His expertise, coupled with the interactive nature of the session, left participants with a deep appreciation of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead on India’s path to a cleaner, greener future. This session served as a powerful catalyst for informed discussions and inspired action in the realm of clean energy transition.

Acknowledgement: Priyanka Negi is a research intern at IMPRI.

Read more event reports of IMPRI here.

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