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Ignorance rules societal economic costs of conventional energy, large sized RE projects

Counterview Desk 

In a representation to the chairperson and viced-chairperson, Niti Aayog, Government of India, Shankar Sharma, well-known power and climate policy analyst, has wondered whether the latest warning by the UN – that the current emissions pledges will lead to catastrophic climate breakdown – will not fall on deaf ears of our leaders, in particular the political leaders and bureaucrats in India.
He notes how enormous societal level economic and ecological costs associated with the diversion of land and water, as also pollution/ contamination of air, water and soil because of conventional technology power sources, as also large size RE projects, and massive and recurring subsidies, “are being conveniently ignored.”


May I draw your kind attention to the latest alarm sounded by the UN, as in the two newslinks below, in the context of climate change?
Can the people of our country hope that this latest warning by the UN, as in the two news links below, will not fall on deaf ears of our leaders; in particular the political leaders and bureaucrats in India?
If one were to take an objective view of the draft National Electricity Plan (2022-27) by Central Electricity Authority (CEA), as a typical response of the global polluters for the IPCC call to take stringent actions against climate change, it should become obvious that the GHG emissions at the global level will only increase substantially by 2030 rather than decreasing.
Whereas the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has estimated that greenhouse gas emissions need to fall by about 45% by 2030 compared with 2010 levels, in order to give the world a chance of staying within 1.5C, India's CO2 emissions from the electric power sector by 2030 is projected to increase considerably as compared to what it was in 2022.
As a percentage compared to what it was at 2010 levels (the global estimates have simply stopped comparing the emissions to 1990 levels, as was being done many years ago), this figure by 2030 for India must be a substantial increase instead of a decrease. The same seems to be more or less the scenario with almost all countries.
The UN report says:
"The NDC synthesis report showed that current NDCs would lead to an increase in emissions of about 10.6% by 2030 compared with 2010 levels. This is an improvement over last year’s assessment, which found countries were on a path to increase emissions by 13.7% by 2030 compared with 2010 levels. But the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has estimated that greenhouse gas emissions need to fall by about 45% by 2030 compared with 2010 levels, to give the world a chance of staying within 1.5C."
Despite such glaring suicidal policies from global governments, some people are still confused between "economic costs" and "financial costs" associated with the energy transition needed at the global scale.
For example, many energy experts and economists are saying that the cost of energy transition to RE based scenarios requires trillions of dollars worth investment, and that the distributed REsources such as rooftop SPV systems, are costly as compared to large size solar and wind power parks.
There is a critical need to deploy various REs suitable to our needs in adequate number and capacity
Such people are either ignorant of the societal level economic costs due to conventional technology power sources and the large size RE projects, or may be seen as conveniently hiding the same for their own vested commercial or political interests.
The enormous societal level economic and ecological costs associated with the diversion of land and water, pollution/ contamination of air, water and soil in the case of conventional technology power sources and large size RE projects, and massive and recurring subsidies, are being conveniently ignored in all the associated advocacies. Such people may even term the UN's Secretary's statement, that the continued fossil fuel reliance is 'stupid', itslef as stupid.
Such cynics would do a great service to the global society by recognising the scientific evidence that "the energy loss is the single biggest component of today’s fossil-based electricity system", and that "we don't need solar technology breakthroughs, we just need connections".
RE technologies are already matured to be of true relevance to our needs, and the levelised costs of solar and wind power are already established as cheaper than coal, gas and nuclear power. Also, the distributed type of REs, such as rooftop SPV systems, are the most attractive options to our communities, when we consider all the associated technical, financial, ecological, and social costs from a proper welfare perspective.
The societal/ global level costs of climate change alone are projected to be unimaginable. As compared to such societal level costs, REs, especially the distributed kind of REs, have less societal costs and many more advantages to true relevance to the sustainable lifestyle.
Hence, there is a critical and urgent need to deploy various REs suitable to our needs in adequate number and capacity based on the available technologies, instead of indefinitely waiting for the solar technology breakthroughs.
The true relevance of REs, especially the rooftop SPVs, as per our own experiences, as mentioned in the mail below, should be overwhelmingly obvious to our policy makers.



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