Decoding India's rise on the global energy scene

Analyses
Decoding India's rise on the global energy scene
Cairn India employees work at a storage facility for crude oil at Mangala oil field at Barmer in Rajasthan. India is set to unshackle the energy sector from archaic laws and the inhibitors of growth that kept the industry on a slow burn for decades.Courtesy: Reuters

IEA applauds how the government is implementing reforms to secure an affordable and sustainable energy system that can power robust economic growth.

From reforms in the coal, oil, gas and electricity sectors and boosting energy security by fostering greater domestic energy production to upstream reforms of the Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) and building up strategic petroleum reserves, India has fast emerged as a global energy powerhouse in recent years – unshackling the sector from archaic laws and the inhibitors of growth that kept the industry on a slow burn for decades.

The Indian government has not only focused on solid progress in the realm of traditional energy, but also matched it with equal progress in providing access to electricity and clean cooking, deploying renewables on a major scale and significantly improving energy efficiency.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting the minister of energy, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud, in Riyadh. India’s efforts have been lauded on an international platform by the International Energy Agency as the country moves to put into place a secure, affordable and sustainable energy system.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting the minister of energy, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud, in Riyadh. India’s efforts have been lauded on an international platform by the International Energy Agency as the country moves to put into place a secure, affordable and sustainable energy system.Courtesy: ANI

'Outstanding achievements'

“India’s achievements in its energy sector in recent years have been outstanding. Led by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and his ministers, the Government of India is implementing reforms aimed at achieving a secure, affordable and sustainable energy system that can power robust economic growth,” said Dr Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The IEA’s in-depth look into India’s energy future comes after the IEA and India in January agreed to enter into a Strategic Partnership, strengthening their collaboration across a range of vital areas including energy security and clean energy transitions. This marked a major milestone in global energy governance that could lead to eventual IEA membership for India.

“The country has made huge strides to ensure full access to electricity, bringing power to more than 700 million people since 2000. It is pursuing a very ambitious deployment of renewable energy, notably solar, and has boosted energy efficiency through innovative programmes such as replacing incandescent light bulbs with LEDs (under the Ujala scheme). And it is addressing the serious health problems caused by air pollution for its major cities, providing 80 million households with liquefied petroleum gas connections (under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana scheme), thereby reducing the exposure from biomass cooking stoves, a major cause of respiratory diseases,” he added in a recent outlook report on India’s energy industry.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with French President Emmanuel Macron at the International Solar Alliance Founding Conference in New Delhi. Many nations have now joined this initiative started by India and France.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with French President Emmanuel Macron at the International Solar Alliance Founding Conference in New Delhi. Many nations have now joined this initiative started by India and France. Courtesy: Reuters

Opportunities for energy giants

The result of these sustained efforts has not only opened up the energy market further to global investors and energy giants – thereby improving the sector’s financial health at a time when the post-pandemic energy sector has come under increasing pricing pressure – but also helped India create a lasting footprint in the global fight against climate change.
On Tuesday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi applauded the many countries in the world that have joined the International Solar Alliance (ISA) initiative started by the country.

"At a time when the world is battling the challenges of climate change, India has placed the idea of an International Solar Alliance before the world and embodied it. Today many nations are joining with this initiative started by India. Now it is upon us that we take this initiative further," PM Modi said while addressing the 66th convocation ceremony of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT Kharagpur).

Focus on green energy

He called on the need to provide cheap, affordable and environment-friendly technology to the world, adding that India is one of those countries where the price of solar power is very less. Stressing on the need to initiate a clean cooking movement in India, PM Modi said that a storage battery can be created to provide solar energy door-to-door. "India needs technology that causes minimal harm to the environment, has durability and is used easily by people," he said.

The convergence of the two aspects of the energy industry has created endless opportunities for investors, as noted by the IEA.

For instance, in recent years, India has brought electricity connections to hundreds of millions of its citizens; promoted the adoption of highly-efficient LED lighting by most households; and prompted a massive expansion in renewable sources of energy, led by solar power. The gains for Indian citizens and their quality of life have been tangible.

India has brought electricity connections to hundreds of millions of its citizens; promoted the adoption of highly-efficient LED lighting by most households; and prompted a massive expansion in renewable sources of energy, led by solar power. The gains for Indian citizens and their quality of life have been tangible.

Complicated efforts

However, the Covid-19 crisis has also complicated India’s efforts in some segments of the industry. These include a lack of reliable electricity supply for many consumers; a continued reliance on solid biomass, mainly firewood, as a cooking fuel for some 660 million people; financially ailing electricity distribution companies, and air quality that has made Indian cities among the most polluted in the world.

The IEA’s in-depth look into India’s energy future comes after the IEA and India in January agreed to enter into a Strategic Partnership, strengthening their collaboration across a range of vital areas including energy security and clean energy transitions. This marked a major milestone in global energy governance that could lead to eventual IEA membership for India.

“What our new report makes clear is the tremendous opportunity for India to successfully meet the aspirations of its citizens without following the high-carbon pathway that other economies have pursued in the past," said Dr Birol. “The energy policy successes of the Indian government to date make me very optimistic about its ability to meet the challenges ahead in terms of energy security and sustainability,” he said.

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