Skip to main content

Deplorable, influential sections 'still believe' burning coal is essential indefinitely

By Shankar Sharma* 

Some of the recent developments in the power sector, as some recent news items show, should be of massive relevance/ interest to our policy makers in India. Assuming that our authorities are officially mandated/ committed to maintain a holistic approach to the overall welfare of all sections of our society, including the flora, fauna and general environment, these developments/ experiences from different parts of the globe should be clear pointers to the sustainable energy pathways for our people.
It is highly deplorable that many influential but tiny sections of our society continue to view fossil fuels as essential for our people indefinitely. They do not seem to accept even the "too little too late" target year of 2075 for the net carbon scenario. They simply seem to believe that fossil fuels, especially burning coal, cannot be done away with even in the distant future.
Whereas such opinion pieces from some individuals and private agencies may be condoned because of their ignorance/ unaccountability, what is deeply worrisome is the frequent statements/ policies from the Union power ministry to indicate that there will be a continuous increase in coal consumption every year for the foreseeable future; such as a recent statement by the Union Power Minister that his ministry is planning to add 80 GW of Thermal Power Capacity by 2031-32.
Whereas he is also reported to have asked people to shift farm power to renewables to save coal for non-solar hours, the fact that he is advocating a massive addition to coal power capacity, should clearly indicate that the govt. is not convinced of the societal need to minimise fossil fuel combustion even towards the end of 2023, and about the humongous potential in renewal energies (REs) to minimise the unacceptable costs to the society from such conventional technology power plants.
It appears that most of our authorities in decision making levels, including ministers, and almost all of the high profile economists/ energy sector leaders are unable to focus on a holistic approach to the overall welfare of the society.
They seem to simply target the supply of electricity to meet a never ending demand at any cost, and on few dry statistics without worrying about the harsh realities behind those numbers. The saddest part of such opinion pieces is the complete lack of focus on containing the ever growing demand through DSM, energy efficiency and energy conservation.
One opinion piece declares that coal isn’t easy to exclude from sustainable development for India. But the same article is silent as to how easy it is to continue with the Business-As-Usual (BAU) scenario, when we also take cognisance of the societal level costs of burning enormous amounts of coal, and the ongoing consequences of climate change. So myopic seems to be our approach to the energy sector policies and practices.
In Business-As-Usual (BAU) scenario, societal level costs of burning enormous amounts of coal and consequences of climate change are ignored
These people seem to be oblivious to numerous positive developments from around the world, which should clearly indicate the different paradigm gaining global recognition, such as the massive usage of REs, battery energy storage system (BESS), mini/micro/ smart grids etc. 
The massive potential to transform our power sector scenario from the present status as a laggard, high polluter and inefficient, to the one which is sustainable, efficient and forward looking through the optimal usage of distributed kind of REs in a concept involving a state/ regional/ national federation of numerous mini/ micro/ smart grids, seem to be of no consequence to our planners.
It is highly unfortunate that this concept is not even mentioned in our national discourse, although a number of such mini/ smart grids are reported to be functioning satisfactorily in many parts of the world.
The functioning example of more than 800 energy co-operatives connected to the national grid in Germany should be a lesson for us to undertake diligent studies on. It is very sad that entities such as Central Electricity Authority (CEA)/ NITI Aayog/ elite energy institutes/ Indian Institute of Technologies (IITs), and other power sector entities in the country are not known to having even cursory interest in such a concept or such novel initiatives.
It is deeply a worrisome scenario that our authorities in decision making levels, including ministers, seem to completely ignore the serious societal level consequences to our people in the medium term to long term of not adopting a paradigm shift and move towards smooth energy transition at the earliest.
The fact that despite repeated civic society calls to finalise a diligently prepared National Energy Policy, the draft of which was published in 2017, and which came across severe criticism for its lack of rationality, should be a clear indication in this regard.
---
*Power and climate policy analyst

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Students, lawyers, professors detained in Delhi for demonstrating in support of farmers

By Our Representative  About 25 protestors, belonging to the civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a coalition of over 40 organisations, were detained at Jantar Mantar for holding a demonstration in support of the farmers' stir on Friday. Those detained included students, lawyers and professors, including Prof Nandita Narain and Prof N Sachin. 

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Mahanadi delta: Aggressive construction in flood plains, reduced fish stock, pollution

By Sudhansu R Das  Frequent natural calamities, unemployment, low farmers’ income, increase in crime rate and lack of quality human resources to strike a balance between growth and environment etc. continue to haunt the state. The state should delve into the root causes of poverty, unemployment and natural calamities.