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Building the Future: A Road to energy Atmanirbharta

  • Category
    Economy
  • Published
    9th Sep, 2022

Context

Prime Minister has called for “Energy Atmanirbharta” by 2040. A road map will be required to accomplish the desired goal.

About

Appropriate definition for Atmanirbharta:

  • To many Atmanirbharta translates to self-reliance or a meansto attain self-sufficiency.
  • But energy self-sufficiency alone is infeasible and uneconomic. It would be more yielding if we understand the idea of Atamanirbharta in the context of “strategic autonomy”.
  • India has an installed power capacity of 403,760 MW – an increase of about 300 times – and the population has expanded over fourfold.
  • At 1208 kWh per capita consumption, India is also one of the largest producers and consumers of energy.
  • Despite its dependency on energy imports, the nation has built a total non-fossil fuel capacity of about 41.5 per cent, equivalent to 1,67,694 MW.

How can we accomplish the goal of ‘strategic autonomy’ in energy?

  • Prioritize Access to fossil fuels: Our policy must continue to emphasize affordable and secure access to oil and gas. This could be achieved by intensifying domestic exploration.
  • Lowering the high exploration and development costs: We must recognize, that our geology is complex and also the fact that even if we were successful in making discoveries, it may be difficult to produce them on commercially viable terms.
    • This is because of high exploration and development costs.
  • Prioritizing access to green energy: The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has forecast that wind and solar energy will make up around 51 percent of the installed power generation capacity of 830 GW by 2030.
    • This will require access to minerals/components (copper, cobalt, lithium, semiconductor chips,etc) required to build EVs, solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries. The problem is these commodities are concentrated in countries that are not on the same political page as India.
Note: 38 percent of copper is produced in Chile and Peru. These countries have left-wing governments unreceptive to private-sector mining. Further, China controls 47 percent of copper smelting and 42 percent of copper refining.
  • Removing the obstacles to domestic mining: India has some resources such as cobalt, nickel, and heavy rare earth metals but it has done little to expedite their mining and processing.
    • India must remove the obstacles to domestic mining and develop strategies to manage the dynamics of market concentration, global competition, and unfavorable geopolitics.
  • Infrastructure Development: Infrastructure development is crucial to attaining strategic autonomy in energy.
    • We must expand our strategic petroleum reserves to cover at least 30 days of consumption.
    • In addition, we must upgrade the transmission grid and battery storage systems to scale up renewables and smoothen its supplies.
  • Developing Innovative financing mechanisms:To fund green infrastructure projects we must work out financing mechanisms.
    • It should be emphasized that all such investments will get impaired if state discoms are financially insolvent.
  • Green Incentives: The government’s production-linked incentive scheme (PLI) offers benefits for investment in green energy. The investor response has so far been encouraging.
  • Demand conservation and efficiency: In India, the demand management of energy has not attracted as much attention as supply-side issues.
    • But this is not true with our European counterparts. They have standardized and tightened the energy usage norms. We have to work in order to correct our approach.
  • Energy Diplomacy: Because of our dependence on the international energy supply chains, our diplomats should include more arrows of energy diplomacy in their arsenals.
  • Holistic Governance. The age-old structures of energy governance are obsolete in the present times. Institutions should be created to facilitate integrated energy planning and implementation.

Conclusion

Energy Atmanirbharta by 2040 is all about shaping our energy security and establishing India in a state of strategic autonomy. For that we need to overcome the time horizons of politics, economics, and society.

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