A roadmap for a cleaner, greener India
The push towards a gas-based economy, emphasis on EVs and digital innovation across energy systems will help
India is the world’s sixth-largest economy and is expected to become the third largest by 2030. In terms of consumption, India currently is the third largest energy consumer in the world. As per BP Energy Outlook 2020, India’s share of global energy consumption is expected to rise from 6 per cent to 8 per cent by 2030.
The need of the hour is to opt for a fuel that is not only efficient but also environment friendly. De-carbonisation — a reduction of CO2 emissions per unit of energy — can be achieved in two ways. The first is to use less polluting fossil fuel-based energy sources and the second is to adopt technologies that permit the use of fossil fuels while preventing the build-up of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Natural gas is an abundant energy resource found in many regions of the world. The worldwide recoverable resource of natural gas is estimated at 199 TCM, which is sufficient to meet the energy demands for several decades.
Natural gas is also the least carbon intensive fossil fuel and has a high hydrogen/carbon ratio. Due to this, natural gas on combustion releases up to 50 per cent less carbon dioxide than coal and 20-30 per cent less than oil. Globally, the share of natural gas in energy mix is around 24 per cent while in India its only 6 per cent.
India needs to make further efforts to make its primary energy mix cleaner and more sustainable. The government has a vision of increasing the share of natural gas in energy mix from 6 per cent to 15 per cent by 2030.
Thrust on renewables
The government has envisaged measures for accelerating efforts to move towards a gas-based economy.
A greater reliance is on domestic sources, especially biofuels. Our country is working towards achieving the renewables target of 450 GW by 2030. Increasing the contribution of electricity to de-carbonise mobility, moving into the emerging fuels, including hydrogen, and emphasising on digital innovation across energy systems are steps towards realising a cleaner and greener India.
To enhance energy availability and accessibility, India is working towards a “one nation one gas grid” structure by laying approximately 16,500 km of gas pipelines in addition to existing network of around 18,000 km.
The Centre has accelerated bidding rounds for authorisation of geographical areas (GAs) for implementation of city gas distribution networks. After completion of the 10th bidding round, 53 per cent of India’s area and 70 per cent of its population spread over 402 districts in 27 States/UTs would have access to CGD networks.
The government has given thrust to import substitution by implementing coal gasification technology at the Talcher Fertilizer Plant for efficient utilisation of India’s vast coal reserves. The plant will have an output of 1.27 MMTPA of ‘neem’ coated prilled urea using coal as feedstock, showcasing the clean usages of coal.
Biofuels is another area where India is vigorously working to tap its vast potential.
Under the “Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT)” initiative, it is planned to set up 5,000 compressed biogas (CBG) plants by 2024 with a production target of 15 million tonne per annum (MTPA) which is equal to around 50 million standard cubic metres per day (MMSCMD).
Compressed natural gas (CNG) is used as a fuel in vehicles and it is often referred to as green fuel, as compared to liquid fuels because of its lead and sulphur free character and reduced harmful emissions. Due to the absence of any lead or benzene content in CNG, lead or benzene-related pollution is also eliminated. CNG is a safe fuel because it is lighter than air, so in case of leak it just rises up and disperses into the atmosphere and mixes in the air easily and evenly.
The idea of using LNG as a fuel for heavy vehicles and H-CNG for buses is also being implemented in India. Oil marketing companies have also started retailing Bharat Stage-VI compliant fuel since April 2020, which is equivalent of Euro VI fuel to reduce emissions in the transport sector. Further, the carbon intensity of power generation is expected to fall, driven by renewables gaining share relative to coal.
Every country has to chart its own energy transition depending on the demand pattern and availability of resources. India has taken the responsible path of sustainable development and energy transition for a clean and green future for the nation.
The writer is Chairman and Managing Director, GAIL