Energy Independent India: Can it be a reality? - Godrej Green Building -

Energy Independent India: Can it be a reality? – Godrej Green Building

Rumi-EngineerMr. Rumi Engineer, Head – Green Building Consultancy Services & Energy Conservation at Godrej & Boyce Mfg. Co. Ltd.

Recently came across an article where an international body called India’s plan to become energy independent by 2030 as “very ambitious” and “idealistic”. I have to agree that given the challenges in the sectors and huge population and other economic pressures, it may be difficult to achieve the same. However, if the government policies are in place and if we as society effectively utilize all forms of energy reserves available to us and strike a balance between the demand and supply sides of energy consumption, it may be possible to build an energy-independent India.

The new government has taken its first step towards tackling the issue of India’s energy independence by coal, power, and renewable energy into one single entity – “Ministry of Power & Energy”, under the leadership of Mr. Piyush Goyal. This would definitely help in administering policy coordination, rationalization and implementation.

As per the Twelfth Plan of the Planning Commission, the total domestic energy production of 669.6 million tons of oil equivalent (MTOE) will be reached by 2016-17 and 844 MTOE by 2021-22. This however, will be enough to meet around 71 per cent and 69 per cent of expected energy consumption, with the balance to be met from imports. With rising income levels and purchasing power of Indians, the demand for individual consumption of energy will rise further. On the Industrial side, growing industrialization will only require more energy and for the resources to meet both demands, personal and commercial, will be a great challenge.

In order to make our country energy independent, we need to address both – supply side management and demand side management. On the supply side management, while it is essential for India to radically expand the capacities on all the fronts and all the segments of energy, equally important is the need for efficient consumption of energy for which a number of initiatives will need to be put in place. On the Demand Side Management, studies have established the fact that over 20% of energy is wasted because of in-efficient end use of Energy. The mis-match between demand and supply is so immense that for the next few decades, India would need to exploit all possible options to create reasonably large capacity base on the energy side.

According to a report by NSO (National Statistical Organization), coal has a dominant position constituting about 51% of India’s primary energy resources followed by Oil (36%), Natural Gas (9%), Nuclear (2%) and Hydro (2%) whereas utilization of Solar Energy is negligible. Clearly, the reserves are not being utilized equally and perhaps this is one of the major reasons for price disparity and inefficiency.

A report published by BP Energy discusses how India may become increasingly import dependent despite increased production by the year 2030. Its research shows that India’s energy mix remains relatively unchanged as coal’s dominance drops slightly from 53% today to 50% in 2030 while oil maintains its current 29% share. What is to be noted is that fossil fuels may account for 88% of Indian energy consumption even in 2030, while renewable share of consumption rises only from 2% to 4%. Also, oil imports rise by 152% as the country’s production meets less than 10% of demand by 2030.

Therefore, we need to change the current mix of energy consumption into one that optimizes each sector without pressurizing any one. The government has taken several measures to help in this process like:

Open Acreage Licensing Policy that will allow bidders to bid for blocks at any time of the year as compared with the current system which only allows periodic bidding.

Another initiative by the government is New Exploration License Policy (NELP), which was started by the government in 1999 in an effort to boost hydrocarbon exploration in the country. As per media reports, the body allocates rights to explore hydrocarbon blocks through a bidding process and has done this in nine phases so far for 360 blocks, with an investment of around $21.3 billion. This is done to encourage energy distribution.

Shale gas which is a natural gas produced from organic-rich shale formations has been a game changer in the energy scene of the USA. Our government was not as prompt in understanding its importance until now because though shale gas reserves may be plentiful, it costs a lot more. However, that should not stop our government from encouraging both public and private sectors to import gas shale production technology by giving incentives.

Solar energy is second largest renewable energy source after wind energy in the world. Solar power plants in India are still almost exclusively ground-mounted Photo Voltaic (PV) plants that are typically larger than 5 MW in size and supply electricity to the grid. Government has put in place policies like the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (NSM) and the Gujarat Solar Policy which provide preferential Feed-in-Tariffs (FiT) to incentivize the installation of over 1.5 GW of solar PVs in the past two years. Additionally, an ever-increasing number of Indian states like Karnataka, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and Orissa are offering solar policies or directly allocating projects to implement solar power at micro levels to withdraw their dependence on coal and other fossils fuels.

On demand side, buildings are responsible for at least 40% of energy use in most countries and the sector is a significant contributor to the global warming due to extensive emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the energy used right from its construction phase. The newly elected government recognizes the importance and recently announced a regulation whereby it will be mandatory for all state governments to implement the minimum requirements for energy efficient design and construction for buildings, set by the central government to meet the challenges of depleting resources, increased urbanization and rapid construction, by 2017. The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) under the power ministry through its Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) has made it essential to reduce the energy consumption through design and choice of material and equipment. As per this rule, all components like building envelope (walls, roofs, and windows), lighting, air conditioning and electrical systems will have to meet the specifications under ECBC. To the credit of earlier government, the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MOEF) had issued a memorandum on 10th May 2011 prioritizing projects with Green Building certification (IGBC, LEED & GRIHA) for consideration with the Expert Committee at Central or State level for Environment clearances. Uttar Pradesh Government has also done its bit to promote Green Buildings by providing 5% extra FAR for projects with min. plot area of 5000 sqm. and equipped with a Green Building certification (LEED or GRIHA).

For reducing dependence on electricity from grid, one can install solar roof top panels of less than 1 MW in all residential and commercial buildings which can be used for their own purposes like heating. Delhi, which suffers from major power issues has been using solar panels and advocating its use to individual users to help in saving energy. The main challenge of such a strategy is that solar panels are still more expensive and requires space for being installed. However, thanks to rising awareness about sustainable development in the country and efforts by the government, we can hope for an increased use of solar energy in the country, at least for solar hot water systems. According to a report published by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, around 60 million households worldwide use solar hot water systems. The report also states that 30% of energy consumed in industry is used for heating water, which shows that there is a huge potential for the use of rooftop solar hot water systems. India was ranked 4th in the world in terms of new capacity addition in rooftop solar hot water systems during the year 2011with an installed capacity of 7.281 million sq m2 equivalent to 5082 MW till 30th October 2013.

With huge demand in real estate in India, developing green buildings with renewable energy usage is the most effective and essential way to optimize energy consumption at the demand side.