Can high gas prices incentivise use of solar power, batteries for cooking?
New Delhi: Though not as widely criticised as rising petrol and diesel prices, gas prices too have started troubling household budgets. The price of a commercial LPG cylinder in Delhi is over Rs. 2,000 now, while CNG price is nearing Rs. 50/kg. Apart from rising international prices, the focus on less polluting fuels is also leading to an increase in use of natural gas, which is largely an imported commodity in India. While natural gas is a cleaner alternative compared to liquid fuels, it is after all a fossil fuel that adds to carbon emissions.
Programme Director for Climate Change and Renewable Energy at the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), Samrat Sengupta, is of the view that natural gas is not the permanent answer for domestic or industrial cooking, and can at the most be used as a transit fuel till the use of renewables picks up and ways are devised to decarbonise sources of energy. He questions the long-term viability of developing an infrastructure-heavy system replete with pipelines and a distribution system of cylinders for use of natural gas, indicating that policymakers should instead focus on investing in environmentally plausible alternatives.
Chairman and CEO of ReNew Power, Sumant Sinha, terms Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s target to achieve Net Zero emissions by 2070 as a prudent assessment of ground realities while staying committed to a meaningful climate goal. With India amongst the few nations on track to achieve the NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions) committed during the COP-15 in Paris, Sinha feels that the announcement of near term goals such as: increase in non-fossil energy capacity, fulfilment of half of the national energy requirement through renewable sources by 2030, reduction of 1 billion tons of carbon emission from total projected emission by 2030 and reduction in carbon intensity by 45% are feasible goals. However, he is of the view that the developed nations must also fulfil their promises and back this energy transition through finance.
Pointing to considerations of the environment as well as energy security, Sengupta opines that “electricity is the best bridging for the use of energy,” while comparing 60 per cent efficiency of gas stoves with 90 per cent efficiency of induction cookers. In view of various incentives given to the solar cell industry, he suggests that policymakers should encourage public investment in storage systems for batteries charged through solar cells, indicating that battery power will be cheaper than coal-based power by 2025.
Sengupta feels that electric cooking will become cheaper with the economy of scale, and solar-based batteries may start getting promoted at community cooking areas like schools serving mid-day meals or religious places.