Draft National Energy Policy
The Draft National Energy Policy has rolled out by the NITI Aayog with the primary goal of doing planning related to energy in terms of its mandate and coordinating role. Planning Commission which was replaced by the NITI Aayog also focused on various policies such as Integrated Energy Policy in 2006 and the Expert Group Reports on Low Carbon Inclusive Growth in 2012 and 2014.
The key objectives of this policy are as follows:
The policy aims to improve the energy security of the country by reducing the dependency on imports. As of now, India is heavily dependent on oil and gas import. Due to external disturbances like wars, civil unrest in different countries may disrupt the imports of fuels like coal and therefore hamper the fuel security of the country.
Energy sources can be diversified by tapping into renewable sources like solar and wind energy. The sources of imports need to be diversified by exploring other countries and also increasing the domestic production.
Access at affordable cost
As per the aim of this policy each and every household in the country will be electrified by the year 2022 and also get access to clean cooking fuel. The vulnerable sections of the society will receive financial support and the competitive pricing will also help in achieving the set goals.
There are two ways in which an efficient energy supply can promote economic growth. The first one is through competitive pricing which will be critical in developing a healthy competitive environment in the energy intensive sectors of India. The second way will be through direct influence by promoting increased domestic production.
Reducing the dependency on fossil fuels and greater sustainability
The policy aims to reduce the overall dependency on fossil fuels as they are exhaustible. By increasing the production through renewable sources will also promote the sustainable development goals of the country.
NEP and its predecessor IEP
The Integrated Energy Policy of 2006 is the base of the current National Energy Policy drafted by the NITI Aayog. The primary difference between the two policies is the approach used to achieve the objectives, the IEP made a basket of specific measures which were to be used to achieve the goals. In the case of research and betterment of renewable energy, the erstwhile planning commission recommended the conversion of Indian Renewable Energy Development Authority on the lines of NABARD. In the case of NEP, a broad framework for the entire energy sector is considered including vast technology and various fuel options.
The transition from IEP to NEP is important to check the sudden decline in the renewable energy tariffs and to scale up the grid-connected to clean energy sources.
Recommendations and Goals of the Draft National Energy Policy:
- It aims to generate at least 175 GW of energy from renewable sources by the year 2022.
- It proposes higher taxes on SUVs and also promotes the use of public transport like metro, CNG buses to improve the air quality.
- It also predicts the increase in power demand shooting up over four folds.
- It also promotes phasing out of IC engines in vehicles and use of eco-friendly electric engines.
Problems with the DNEP 2017
The consumption of coal has been estimated to grow to around 330-441 GW by the year 2040 which contradicts the aim to shift towards renewable sources of energy like wind and solar plants. Also at a time when the tariffs of solar and wind energy are at an all time low growing dependency nullify the motive behind adopting environment-friendly energy sources.
The NITI Aayog claims that over a period of time India will become a net exporter of coal at a time when most of the countries are shunning coal based energy plants for clean and environment-friendly energy plants. The draft instead of phasing out the existing thermal power plants focuses more on relocating the existing plants in places where do not affect human habitations to an extent of causing serious damage.
There is also some amount of repetition in the current draft. Promoting LPG imports and providing incentives for shale and conventional gas exploration have already been proposed in previous policies. There needs to be more strict and strong action proposed for pipelines like the Ira-Pakistan India (IPI) and Turkmenistan- Afganistan- Pakistan- India as there has been little progress in the past 20 years on them.
What can be done to improve the Draft?
Many experts want the entire process of making the draft again with improvisations. There a few contradictions in the draft which needs to be addressed by the government as soon as possible. It will be much better to have specific steps to be taken to achieve the goals rather than a framework to improve the workability of the policy in the future.
Clear energy pathways and strong policy are the need of the hour considering the steady and promising growth of global energy market. More measures should be included to make the wind and solar energy more viable and economical. The current DNEP has only a few measures to check the uncertainty of the producers and distributors and is more focused on providing the government enough room to maneuver in the implementation process and tailor the solution as per the changes in the market.