Editorial & Analyses

    India: The World Energy Outlook And G-20

    Sunil Aswal
    September7/ 2023
    Last Updated:


    Shri R K Singh*

    New Delhi (The Hawk): When the leaders of the G-20 countries meet on the 9th and 10th of this month, a primary concern will be accelerating the energy transition to address climate change. There is unanimous acknowledgment of the immediate threat posed by climate change, as well as the urgent need to shift from fossil fuels to non-fossils at an accelerated pace to curb CO2 emissions and strive to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees from pre-industrial levels. 

    India has one of the lowest per capita emissions in the world. Our per capita emission is 2.40 tCO2e (tonne carbon dioxide equivalent), whereas the global average is 6.3 tCO2e. Our contribution to the legacy Carbon Dioxide load is only 4% whereas we comprise 17 percent of the world's population. We are the only major economy whose energy transition actions are consistent with a sub-2-degree rise in temperature. 

    In COP 21 Paris, we pledged to achieve 40% non-fossil power generation capacity by 2030, a target we achieved in 2021, nine years ahead. Our non-fossil generation capacity is 187GW with 103GW under construction. At COP 26 in Glasgow, we have committed to reach 50% non-fossil power generation by 2030. 

    We had pledged a 33% emissions intensity reduction by 2030 in COP 21 and achieved it in 2019. Our new commitment at COP 26 is a 45% emissions intensity reduction by 2030.

    We are frontrunners in energy efficiency initiatives. Through our industry-focused Perform, Achieve, and Trade Program (PAT), we have reduced CO2 emissions by 106 million tonnes annually. Our appliance Star Labeling Program has led to a 57 million-tonne annual carbon emission reduction, while our LED program has achieved a 106 million-tonne reduction each year. 

    Energy access is at the centre stage of SDG7. Our unprecedented expansion efforts connected thousands of villages and 26 million homes within 18 months. Over the past nine years, we increased our power generation capacity by 190 GW and installed 1,97,000 circuit kilometers of transmission lines, creating the world's largest integrated grid. We have emerged as achievers.

    There are several challenges before the world in energy transition. Storage is pivotal in order to have round-the-clock Renewable Energy. Battery storage manufacturing capacity in the world today is only about 1163 GWh. The cost of storage is very high at present. We came out with a bid for 1000 MWh of storage, one of the largest bids in the world, and have taken steps to set up battery manufacturing capacities. 

    Nuclear energy offers continuous, clean electricity generation. However, most developing countries, except us, lack significant nuclear capacities. Small modular reactors can be a solution, but it is still in a developmental phase.

    The other solution is Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) but this is also at the initial stages. The question of sequestration remains as does the question of costs. 

    Another challenge lies in diversifying supply chains. Currently, a significant portion of solar cell and module manufacturing capacity is concentrated in a single country. We established a Production Linked Incentive Scheme (PLI) to encourage large-scale manufacturing and are on track to achieve 100 GW of manufacturing capacity by 2026. Likewise, the majority of lithium-ion battery manufacturing capacity for storage is concentrated in a single country. Fortunately, we have identified lithium reserves within our borders and have secured one successful PLI bid for lithium battery manufacturing. 

    The above-mentioned issues highlight the hurdles in energy transition, which were addressed during the G-20 Energy Ministers meeting in Goa, chaired by me. It marked a significant achievement, with agreement on more issues than at any previous G-20 meeting. We acknowledged the paramount importance of energy access while pursuing energy transition. We recognized that energy transition cannot be considered complete as long as 773 million people lack access to energy globally.

    We collectively recognized the importance of advancing energy security, access, and affordability alongside energy transition efforts. We also agreed on the need to address climate change through the complete implementation of the Paris Agreement and its temperature goal, emphasizing equity and differentiated responsibilities based on natural circumstances.

    All the ministers committed to devising a roadmap for doubling the global rate of energy efficiency improvement and acknowledged the "Voluntary Action Plan on Doubling the Global Rate of Energy Efficiency Improvement by 2030" prepared by the Indian Presidency. Furthermore, we emphasized on the need for reliable and diversified supply chains for renewable energy equipment and critical minerals. The importance of hydrogen, produced from zero and low emission technologies, as a fuel for the future was recognized. All the Ministers agreed on the need to harmonize standards for Hydrogen and Ammonia, produced from zero and low-emission technologies, and advocated for fair and open trade in the same. The Ministers adopted the 'G-20 high-level voluntary principles on Hydrogen' introduced by the Indian Presidency. 

    Affordability and equitable access to emerging energy transition technologies were recognized as essential for developing economies, and therefore it is necessary to draw up regional multilateral and public-private networks for technology sharing. 

    Access to low-cost financing for energy transition was acknowledged as vital for developing economies. The Ministers took note of the report on "Low-Cost Financing for Energy Transition" prepared by the Indian Presidency in this regard.

    This Energy Ministers' meeting was highly successful, with unanimous praise for India's superlative organization of the meet. There were two important takeaways for us - India has emerged as a leader in energy transition and as the voice of the Global South.

    *Union Minister For Power And New & Renewable Energy

    rk singh