India's Trilemma: Balancing energy security, access & sustainability

India scores 50 in sustainable energy, a mid-point score that fits with its current realities.

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World Energy Trilemma Index is a quantification of the Energy Trilemma, defined as the triple challenge of providing secure, equitable and affordable, environmentally sustainable energy.
India is being pragmatic about its energy use, looking for alternatives but not sacrificing energy consumption that's vital for a growing economy. Data from the World Energy Institute shows India scores 50 in sustainable energy, a mid-point score that fits with its current realities. Here’s a look:

1. INDIA IS RANKED 109th ON WEC’S ENERGY TRILEMMA INDEX
Index assesses countries on their ability to provide sustainable energy through 3 dimensions: energy security, energy equity (accessibility and affordability), environmental sustainability.


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2. WEAK LINKS
A] Though India scores high on energy security, the index has dipped almost every year since 2000. Reasons: Reduction in energy storage, and diversity of primary energy supply as well as an increase in import dependency.

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B] Equity and Sustainability low but improving each year due to reduction in energy prices and more efficiency.

3. WHAT IS GOING RIGHT FOR INDIA

A] Energy security and environmental sustainability
* Ongoing hydrocarbon exploration licensing policy (HELP) to boost domestic production and national policy on biofuels.

* Policies promoting electric vehicles with focus on shared and public transport.
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* A time-bound pan-India strategy to tackle air pollution.

* Energy efficiency measures include demand-side management through the speedy implementation of Smart Meter Programme and industrial energy efficiency through Perform, Achieve and Trade (PAT) scheme.
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B] Energy access
* Electricity access provided to almost 100% households, target to realise 24x7 power for all.

* Plan for solarisation of irrigation pumpsets

* Use of barren land for solar plants by farmers

* Continued expansion of LPG connections and subsidies for LPG delivered via DBT

C] Energy diversity
* 175 GW renewable energy capacity targeted by 2022; ultimately 500 GW by 2030

* At the same time, increasing gas share in the energy mix (Steps include gas grid, city gas distribution, plans for LNG trading hub)

* Encouraging implementation of energy storage for large solar plants, domestic PV manufacturing and RE hybrid systems

4. WHAT INDIA NEEDS TO DO
* Improve fiscal performance of SEBs

* Mitigate import dependence on oil and gas

* Enhance domestic manufacturing

* Integrate large variable renewable energy capacity and optimum flexible operation of conventional generation

Note 1: World Energy Trilemma Index is a quantification of the Energy Trilemma, defined as the triple challenge of providing secure, equitable and affordable, environmentally sustainable energy.

Note 2: Key metrics (and weights) used to compute scores: Energy security (30%): Import dependence, diversity of electricity generation, energy storage; Energy equity (30%): population’s electricity access, electricity prices, gasoline and diesel prices Environmental sustainability (30%): Final energy intensity, % power generation from decarbonised sources, CO2 emissions per capita; Country context (10%): Macroeconomic stability, effectiveness of government, innovation capability.

Illustration: ANIRBAN BORA
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