The future of energy sector rests on four pillars viz. Energy Access, Energy Efficiency, Energy Sustainability and Energy Security. Critically discuss in the light of current government policies towards the sector.

Published: May 9, 2017

The Goal -7 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is to Ensure Access to Affordable, Reliable, Sustainable and Modern Energy for All. To achieve this goal, the government is betting on both renewable as well as non-renewable sources of energy. However, the future of energy sector rests on four pillars viz. Energy Access, Energy Efficiency, Energy Sustainability and Energy Security as follows:
Energy Access
Currently, India consumes 309 GW of power and consumption is set to rise by more than double by 2025 not only due to increased demand by industries and households but also due to government’s promise to provide full access to electricity to all citizens by 2022. Despite of huge consumption, currently around 300 million people of India live without access to electricity. The entire discourse of future of energy is waste if there is no access to energy. Though the government is trying to increase energy access to both manufacturing industries as well as household consumers, yet, there are several major issues including higher dependency on coal imports, high cost of financing, poor infra concerns, loss making discoms in the states and so on. If we talk about only household level, the energy consumption is dictated by affordability, availability and household characteristics. In these, availability or access issue does dominate the discourse.
Energy Efficiency
The access to energy can be increased by two ways viz. increasing production and increasing efficiency, which leads to saving of energy. There are two dimensions of energy efficiency viz. efficiency in distribution and efficiency in energy using equipments. The government of India had enacted a Energy Conservation Act (EC Act) in 2001 with the goal of reducing energy intensity of Indian economy. In March 2002, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) was set up as the statutory body, which gives energy efficiency certifications. Currently, the government of India has a plan to replace energy-intensive appliances with more efficient designs to save Rs.  600 billion a year under schemes to distribute LED Bulbs (UJALA) and energy-efficient irrigation pumps. The efforts are laudable but most problematic issue is of money losing state distributors that struggle to pay for electricity.
Energy Sustainability
India plans to reach the target of 175 gigawatt (GW) of renewable energy generation capacity by 2022. It also plans to generate 100 GW of solar energy from the current 7 GW by this target year. The new hydropower and wind power capacity are also in queue and projects will start as soon as possible. India is bound by a large number of environmental agreements and treaties which restrict its use of energy resources. One recent one is the Kigali agreement that would lead India to reduce its carbon consumption by 2040.
Energy Security
Currently, India has a fragile energy security and is under pressure from its rising dependence on imported coal, policy uncertainties, lack of skilled manpower, inefficiencies and underdeveloped infrastructure. One example is petroleum sector where India has surplus refining capacity but lesser investments in upstream sector. For better energy security, India also needs to have a diversified fuel basket along with focus on accelerated development of energy infra, human resource development, technological upgrade and conducive regulatory regime.

Model Questions Category: