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IIM Ahmedabad Releases Report on Energy Transitions Toward Net-Zero for India

IIM Ahmedabad released the report “Synchronizing energy transitions towards possible Net-Zero for India: Affordable and clean energy for All” as part of a research project that was approved in November 2021 by the Government of India’s Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser, with partial funding from Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. The launch was held on April 3, 2024.

A need was felt to undertake an analytical study on the energy transition required towards a net-zero energy basket for India. Accordingly, the study was sanctioned with the objective of conducting a comprehensive study with rigorous methods for minimizing the cost of power at consumer end and to work out an optimum mix for all sources of power, aiming for net-zero emission.

The report attempts to answer key questions related to India’s energy trajectory such as how much energy does India need to achieve high value of Human Development Index (HDI); what are pathways to achieve this; what are the energy mix projections for this until 2070 (our declared net-zero target year); what would be the cost of electricity to the end user; what would be the carbon emissions until 2070; what would be the investments required for energy transitions towards net-zero at 2070; estimation of other challenges and opportunities (RE integration, requirement of critical minerals, Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS), natural gas, ethanol, hydrogen) in energy transitions towards achieving net-zero in 2070.

The main conclusions of the report are given below:

  • There is no silver bullet to achieve net-zero. The transition needs multiple pathways to be adopted with co-existence of myriad technologies in our energy basket.
  • Coal is projected to continue until the next two decades as the backbone of the Indian energy system.
  • Net-zero is not possible without substantial nuclear power and Renewable Energy (RE) generation by 2070.
  • To achieve net-zero energy systems by 2070, the electricity sector will need to decarbonize well before that.
  • India’s emissions would range between 0.56 btCO2 and 1.0 btCO2 in 2070. It is expected that the remaining gap in emissions will be offset through sequestration in forestry and tree cover as envisaged in our Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
  • Additionally, the coal phase-down will require active policies on critical minerals and carbon dioxide removal technologies.
  • Clean, affordable electricity at low levelized cost of electricity (for consumers) can be achieved in net-zero pathways, especially with a focus on nuclear power and renewable power.
  • Widespread electrification of end-use sectors i.e upto 47-52% electricity share in Total Final Electricity Consumption (TFEC) compared to 18% at present.
  • Financial requirements during 2020-2070 would be to the tune of Rs 150-200 lakh Crore (about US$ 2-2.5 trillion, or US$ 40-50 billion/year). Considerable financial flows must be international.

Prof. Ajay Sood, PSA to Government of India, in his opening remarks, stated that the report is a comprehensive study, bringing together aspects from all sectors of power generation in one place, providing a holistic view of the Indian energy sector and throwing light on the potential pathways for a development-led transition to net-zero. He added that these pathways also need large resources to be put in place, hence, we need to synergies our efforts in various sectors. He stated that this report is a good beginning and more such studies are needed.

Dr. V. K. Saraswat, Member, NITI Aayog expressed his satisfaction in the findings of the study which were in alignment with the simulation studies done by NITI Aayog. He appreciated that the study is based on a development-led approach which is the right approach to clean energy transition. He also acknowledged that such a transition is also going to be expensive, as highlighted in the report. He agreed with the premise that more RE penetration is needed with baseload energy source as nuclear. He emphasised that without nuclear energy, the storage requirements for RE will be very high to tackle the intermittency of its supply. This will, in turn, enhance the dependence on critical minerals which is not sustainable. He further added that for the nuclear sector, a transition is needed from large reactors to Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), with participation of industry. There is also a need to promote alternate nuclear fuel options such as Thorium to reduce dependence on Uranium import.

Access the report here!

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(Source: PIB)

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