India – the 3rd-largest carbon emitting country – is committed to playing an active role in the fight against global climate change and it has severe air quality concerns to address. This Roundtable, based on six months of research by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), part of the Greening of Asia project, will examine two key aspects of India’s energy strategy: deploying renewables in the power system; building a gas-based industrial economy.
India’s domestic coal allows for the generation of cheap electricity. A shortage of cheap domestic natural gas has reversed the progress of the cleaner fuel, leaving India facing the typical ‘cheap vs green’ dilemma. However, the continued, dramatic fall in the cost of renewable energy may have opened an opportunity to break away from the dilemma. The Indian government has embarked on a very ambitious solar and wind strategy, with a 175GW target by 2022. Turning this ambition into reality will require significant innovation and adaptation of electricity market, contracts, organisation and institutions, in order to manage large-scale intermittent generation. Meeting those conditions will not be easy, while the CO2 emissions reductions, in the absence of large-scale storage, will remain relatively limited. We will discuss the economic, regulatory and political aspects of India’s renewable ambition.
India’s industrial energy consumption has been booming since year 2000, a trend expected to continue as the country industrialises. The fuel mix for industry is very coal-intensive, with heavy, dirty liquid fuels also playing an important role. Industrial emissions are a key contributor to air quality problems. In those states where natural gas is available, it provides a clean and less carbon-intensive alternative. Where regulators tighten air quality standards, gas is supported in its competition with coal and liquid fuels. We will therefore explore the economic, regulatory and political dimensions of gas network expansion, inter-fuel competition in industry, and industrial emission standards.