India’s efforts at realizing green energy targets are facing an incredible challenge with its growing dependence on fossil fuels. The country has already become the 3rd biggest oil consumer in the world and predictions highlight India to become one of the two largest fossil fuel consumers in the world (consuming nearly 50% of global oil demand). Although, initiatives in policy reformation, building manufacturing sector and infrastructure development are leading India’s renewable energy mission, country’s oil dependence has to be curbed to truly realize green energy transition.
Dependence on oil increases the forex outflow, which could have been invested towards a speedier green energy adoption that promises to save billions on fossil fuel imports, create jobs, improve export demand, and restore climate degradation.
Additionally, rising crude oil prices (from $39.9/per barrel in April 2016 to $56/per barrel in December 2019) clearly explain the urgency for green energy transition immediately. However, India has been consistently increasing its oil imports (importing more than 80% of its oil needs), spending $87.7 billion in 2017-18, $111 billion in 2018-19, while the cost is expected to reach at $112.7 billion in the current fiscal. Even recent agreement with the US to reduce India’s overwhelming dependence on West Asian members of the OPEC grouping, we have to point out that it will give rise to India’s oil imports by 42%, curbing attempts at bringing sustainability.
Time to Realign Policies
In 2015, our Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi had promised to work towards cutting India’s oil import dependence by 10% by 2022. However, country’s oil dependence has only increased so far. And as per the predictions of International Energy Agency, India’s demand for oil is expected to reach more than nine million barrels a day by 2040 and the country’s dependence on oil imports will rise to 90% in twenty years.
It is easy to understand that with the oil consumption growing in India, it will impede the growth of renewable energy, especially solar.
Current electricity demand in India is nearly 178 GW. Although India’s total installed energy capacity is 365 GW, and the country is spending billions upon billions in oil, there is a consistent deficit in energy supply (-0.6% in 2018-19). Factoring in fossil fuel’s limited reserves and rising cost, it is easy to understand that the deficit will only rise. This invariably indicates that shift to green energy is the right decision for India.
Focusing On the Bright Side
The future is about security and sustainability. It is easy to understand that oil dependence does not translate into that at all. Understanding the scenario, even oil economy run countries like Saudi Arabia are investing in the green energy transition. As the developed countries are moving towards green energy transition, developing countries are not far away from making positive changes to get out of the binds of depleting fossil fuel industry. For example- Brazil, South Africa, Chile, Philippines are making huge investments in solar energy adoption.
In such a scenario, where India’s energy demand continues to rise (with population), depending on fossil fuel will only damage the country’s economy further.
On the other hand, solar power is showing great promise in offering power to all, while saving money in the long run. By building solar manufacturing capacity within India, the country can effectively be free from the binds of fossil fuel, create green energy jobs and attain energy security while generating revenue through exporting solar equipment.
It is the right time to make the changes that will lead India towards growth. The opportunity is right in front of us and all we need is to opt for sustainability to realize a brighter future.