India’s energy consumption has more than doubled since 2000 propelled by a growing population and rapid economic growth. Indian primary energy basket consists of around 80 percent of fossil fuels (coal 46 pc, oil 26 pc, and gas 6.5 pc) and 20 percent non-fossil fuels (primarily biomass and renewables). The share of natural gas in India’s current energy mix is among the lowest globally, 6.5 percent against the global average of 24 percent.
India’s combined import bill for fossil fuels may triple over the next two decades, with oil, the most significant component, pointing to continued risks to India’s energy security. India’s present yearly oil consumption is about 214 MMT (metric million tonnes) of which only 30-32 MMT (14-15 pc) is met from domestic production. The rest 83 -85 pc is sourced from imports.
The ongoing Russia-Ukraine war has led to skyrocketing global oil prices. The war presents the oil-producing countries with an opportunity to increase prices. Despite multiple requests from the USA and other countries, OPEC has not increased oil output significantly. The Ukraine crisis offers them an opportunity to keep the oil prices high, impacting India’s import bill.
As per BP Energy Outlook 2022 report, India’s primary energy demand is projected to double between 2019 and 2050 with average growth between 2.5 pc and 2.7 pc per annum. As a result of this strong growth, India may account for around 13 pc14 pc of the global primary energy consumption in 2050. The net addition of primary energy in the next 30 years, if majorly sourced from fossil fuels, will create huge dependence on imports. Hence we have to tap the potential of solar and wind.
Presently renewable accounts for less than 4% of India’s electricity generation, and coal is close to 70% but with the Government’s strong push and policy support for renewable energy, both these sources may converge in the low 30 percent share by 2040. The environment-friendly utilization of India’s lower-grade coal reserves through technological advancements can also be looked into.
In my view, the Indian energy basket should strive to have a portfolio of conventional (coal and oil) and green fuels (natural gas, solar, wind, and hydrogen) named ‘Happy Fuels’ as they give happiness to the consumer (lower cost of use), the nation (lesser import bill) and the society (reduction in environmental impact).
We should now target to raise the share of natural gas in the primary energy basket to a global average of 24% from the present 15%. However, the time has come to take decisive steps to, first, realize the gas-based economy’s target of 15% share. Securitization of gas sourcing can be achieved with trans-national pipelines from significant gas exporting countries.
A bouquet consisting of natural gas and other green fuel may become the lifeline for Great India. The use of LNG in trucks or long-haul vehicles needs to be undertaken in mission mode. For the next 100 years, India should focus on transnational pipelines for an effective solution for energy security.
The above is the growth side, but I also believe that the conservation of the resources is equally essential, particularly for a country where the economy is dependent on imports. We need to adopt many conservation techniques.
William Wordsworth said that “a child is the father of the nation”, so the movement of ‘Soch Badlo Aadat Badlo Apne Aapko Badlo’ must be taken to school levels to imbibe the culture of conservation from childhood. We should change our thinking process and change ourselves and contribute towards the cause. The success of such a pan-India initiative depends on our contribution. Sustained efforts are required to be made to take all citizens on board.