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India's energy consumption "unlikely to take off" by 2030: Reliance thinktank analysis

By Our Representative
A high-profile analysis, released by Reliance thinktank Observation Research Foundation (ORF), says that even if Indian economy achieves 8% growth rate, it is unlikely to achieve per person energy consumption levels that represent "decent quality of life" for several years now. It adds, the talk of "India’s energy take-off" may prove to be an ’optical illusion’, which has been caused by "China’s slow-down."
The analysis, "India's Energy Sector: About to Take-off?" by Lydia Powell and Akhilesh Satiby, pointing out that this is "not necessarily good news", adds, projections suggest that by 2030, 20 per cent of the Indian population will have "no access to electricity and 46 per cent will "remain dependent on traditional fuels for cooking."
Basing the analysis on research carried out by the International Energy Agency, Powell and Satiby contend, "Perversely, this will limit the perceived threat posed by the scale of India’s energy transitions on global boundary conditions such as the global carbon budget."
The analysis comes close on the heels of the view being floated, on the basis of data released by British Petroleum (BP), that already in in 2014 “India’s CO2 emissions from energy use had increased by 8.1%", making the country the "world’s fastest-growing major polluter”.
Sourcing on data made available by the Central Electricity Authority (2015), the ORF analysis predicts this scenario despite the fact that "sector-wise changes in consumption of electricity in the last six decades suggests "residential and commercial sectors have doubled their share of electricity consumption (from 10 to 24 percent and from 4 to 9 percent respectively)."
But, it adds, significantly, "The share of industrial consumption has declined from 70 percent to about 42 percent in 2014-15 after peaking at 74 percent in 1960. The share of electricity in traction has declined from about 7 percent in 1947 to about 2 percent in 2014-15, while the share of agriculture in electricity consumption has grown from about 3 percent to about 18 percent after peaking at 26 percent in 1997."
Even the 18th power survey, "projects a demand of 3710 billion units corresponding to a peak load of 514 GW at bus bar in 2032", is unlikely to change the scenario where per capita energy consumption would go up, say Powell and Satiby.
The authors say, "The survey assumes the following: 8-9 percent growth up to the end of the 12th plan and around 7-9 percent beyond that period; full electrification by 2017; high growth rate for electricity consumption in states with low per person electricity consumption."
Coming to energy consumption of petroleum products, particularly petrol, LPG, Kerosene and diesel, the authors say, "there is no appreciable sign of a growth spurt, except in kerosene, whose consumption is showing a consistent negative growth since 2002", adding, "This may be attributed to increase in electrification rates because kerosene is a major source of lighting in un-electrified rural India."
"The absence of a corresponding increase in LPG consumption growth rates is surprising because kerosene is also a major source of cooking fuel in rural areas. The absence of a significant growth of LPG consumption may be attributed to the limits imposed on subsidised LPG consumption", the authors say.
About transportation fuels, "the trend in sales of vehicles shows a significant growth for personal vehicles as opposed to commercial vehicles", the authors believe, adding, "Between 2009 and 2015 personal vehicle sales grew at 4.9 percent compared to a growth of 2.4 percent for commercial vehicles", while "two wheeler sales grew at 9.3 percent."
Basing on this, long-term projections would suggest that there would not be any significant "departure from this trend, where personal vehicle sales is dominated by sales of two wheelers.With commercial vehicles unlikely to increase, there is little chance of "growth spurt in energy consumption", the authors conclude.

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