[Answered] “With economic growth, the demand for power in India is only going to increase further.” In light of this discuss how India should fulfill its energy needs without jeopardising environmental health?

Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. Challenge of rising energy needs and climate change. Measures to fulfill India’s energy needs.
Conclusion. Way forward.

Rapid economic growth in India requires sufficient and cheap energy to ensure energy security. However, large incremental energy demand makes emissions reduction more difficult and costly. The issue of low energy efficiency of present energy infrastructure and high energy demand need proactive government policies and efforts. From the perspective of development, economic growth needs to be sustained by sufficient energy supply and simultaneously meet environmental constraints. For this there is need for sustainable production of energy in an environmental friendly way. This can be achieved through focus on wind, solar, nuclear energy.

Rising challenge of energy security and climate change:

  1. Rise in Energy Demand: Climate change has already started influencing energy demand in most sectors. India’s energy demand outpaced global demand growth in 2018 according to the International Energy Agency. According to the IEA’s Global Energy & CO2 status report, India saw primary energy demand increase 4 %  or over 35 million tonne of oil equivalent. This accounts for 11 % of global demand growth.
  2. Decrease in Energy Supply: Energy supply has been negatively affected by changing weather patterns. As water reservoirs decreases due to lower precipitation and increased evaporation, capacity for electricity production from hydropower and other water-intensive generation technologies may decline. Decreasing water availability can also negatively affect cooling and cleaning systems required for Solar Power, nuclear power, and various other thermal generation technologies.
  3. Poor energy Infrastructure: The existing energy infrastructure in India is not sufficient to meet the rising energy demands, as a result risks of system failures are manifesting themselves through increasing numbers of energy outages.
  4. Transportation sector: The existing transportation infrastructure is currently not designed to address the challenges of climate change and is not adequate for meeting the expected increasing needs of its societies. Any future incentives for mitigating climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon pricing, electric vehicles will require major changes in the region’s energy sector.
  5. Construction sector: Energy needs are also increasing important due to changes in the housing sector as increasing temperatures, particularly in summer months, are also increasing the demand for air conditioning. In the phase of expanding urbanization, with large numbers of new construction projects, it is tough to meet energy demands.

How India should fulfill its energy needs without jeopardising environmental health?

  1. At the national/state level, it will be important for countries to shift to renewable energy sources in their energy mix in order to reduce demand competition for non-renewable sources such as fossil fuels.
  2. Efforts like e-vehicles, target of 175 GW through renewable means, green bonds, green projects etc. are important in this context.
  3. There is need to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and switch to alternate way of producing energy in a sustainable way.
  4. Governments should pay special attention to improving energy infrastructure management and improving planning to cope with the impacts of climate change.
  5. This will also require appropriate policies and regulatory frameworks that incentivise energy efficiency and behavioural change.
  6. Governments will need to encourage small businesses’ activities in the energy sector, for example by enacting policies that support local-level development of renewable energy sources.
  7. It is important to promote nuclear energy and investment should be made to establish nuclear energy infrastructure.
  8. Incorporating likely climate change effects into energy forecasts and planning will be critical for all countries and international institutions.
  9. Strengthening cooperation among the public sector, the private sector, and academia would be critical.
  10. Planning and budgeting for the immediate and long-term impacts of climate change should become a priority for the energy sector.

Implementing the above measures and accounting for climate change impacts on the energy sector will continue to be challenging. This transition will take some time. There are various mitigation and adaptation measures that will have to start immediately. The longer the wait, the more pressing the challenges will become for the region, especially for the poorest who have the least ability to adapt.

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