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 Climate Change

Environment
Published on: July 10, 2020, 8:52 a.m.
What it will take to build a cheap and clean energy future
  • Sustainable transport can carry us to a clean and least-cost energy future

By Sekhar Seshan. Consulting Editor, Business India

India’s recently-announced Rs20-lakh-crore ($266 billion) relief package provides an opportunity to prioritise efforts to build a clean, resilient, and least-cost energy future, including electric vehicles, energy storage, and renewable energy programmes, according to a report released by NITI Aayog. While this is one of the largest stimulus packages in the world as a share of gross domestic product (GDP), it focuses mainly on economic recovery, it points out.

The report, for which the Indian arm of the US-headquartered Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) has partnered with NITI Aayog, is part of RMI’s Green Stimulus and Recovery series which focuses on how countries can use stimulus and recovery investment to build back better after the Covid-19 crisis and help create a cleaner, healthier, more just, and more resilient future for the planet.

RMI’s reports provide a framework for planning and evaluating stimulus efforts along with recommendations for green stimulus and recovery investments and actions specific to the US, China, India, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Caribbean that can help optimise efforts to rebuild in these countries and regions.

This one, Towards a Clean Energy Economy: Post-Covid-19 Opportunities for India’s Energy and Mobility Sectors, stresses the need for electric vehicles, energy storage, and renewable energy programmes, which work towards building a clean, resilient, and least-cost energy future for India.

Pointing out that the government’s package includes its ongoing efforts to boost healthcare facilities, measures by the Reserve Bank of India and special packages that account for about 10 per cent of the GDP, the report discusses how Covid-19 is beginning to influence the clean energy transition in the country. It highlights this change in the transport and power sectors, and identifies principles and strategic opportunities for driving economic recovery and maintaining momentum on the clean energy transition.

India, along with the rest of the world, is facing significant social and economic challenges after implementing measures to contain the spread of Covid-19, to address which various short-term and long-term interventions to support economic recovery are being considered. This situation presents significant demand- and supply-side challenges for the transport and power sectors, from liquidity constraints and supply shortages to shifts in consumer demand and preferences.

The report explains four principles as a framework for policymakers and other key decision-makers considering programmes to support India’s clean energy future: 1) invest in least-cost-energy solutions, 2) support resilient and secure energy systems, 3) prioritise efficiency and competitiveness, and 4) promote social and environmental equity.

The transport sector alone can save 1.7 giga tonnes of cumulative carbon dioxide emissions and avoid about 600 million tonnes of oil equivalent in fuel demand by 2030 through shared, electric, and connected passenger mobility and cost-effective, clean, and optimised freight transport. Significant savings are also achievable in the power sector through the adoption of renewable energy, energy storage, efficiency, and flexible generation and demand.


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