Where does our power sector stand?

The recently published BRICS Energy Report 2021 has drawn a detailed picture of the Indian power sector. Before COP 26, this report is a basis for evaluating India’s progress towards the path of global climate conservation. Let us see where we do stand at this moment… - P. K. Chatterjee (PK)      

India is the world’s third largest power consumer country. Of late, it has been certified by several agencies. Many of its states have by now achieved 100% household electrification too. As on date, the picture of our power sector is represented in the Table 1.

The forthcoming 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 26) will be held between 1st to 12th November 2021, in Glasgow, UK. On the eve of that, it is high time that we look at our progress towards our commitment.

On September 02, Union Minister of State for Power and Heavy Industries, Krishan Pal Gurjar has officially launched the BRICS Energy Report 2021, BRICS Energy Technology Report 2021 and the BRICS Energy Research Directory 2021, in a virtual meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Energy.

In this 6th meeting of BRICS Energy Ministers, Gurjar underlined that India is committed to improving the quality of life of its citizens by ensuring adequacy of electricity availability. He said, “The ‘Power for All’ by 2022 program is a major step in this direction. We have achieved universal access. We added 28 million consumers in just about 18 months, which was the fastest expansion access anywhere in the world, and much of it is due to the fact that we went in for renewables in a major way.”

BRICS Energy Report 2021

This report is an important document that highlights the Indian power sector’s progress towards its climate deterioration mitigation plan. Let us see an overview of our progress from this report, which will help us in asserting our power sector’s steady and noteworthy action to mitigate the climate change – consequently to provide a best-practice-guideline to the rest of the world.

According to the report, India is a major force in the global energy economy. In the last decade, starting from 2010-11, India’s energy consumption has increased with a CAGR of 4.11%. The continuous rise in energy consumption is supported by a growing population and increased per capita income. Energy demand has steadily increased across all sectors, including agriculture, industry, commercial and residential, and is expected to continue to grow. In 2010-11, the total energy consumption was 540.26 Mtoe, which has increased to 776.58 Mtoe in 2019-20(P).  Figure 1 graphically presents the year-wise growth in energy consumption.

Figure 1: Year-wise energy consumption in India… Source: Energy Statistics 2021, Central Statistics Office
Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India
Figure 2: The energy use per person in tonne(s) of oil equivalent (toe)…
Source: Energy Statistics 2021, Central Statistics Office Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India

Due to the increase in industrialization and government endeavours to provide uninterrupted power supply to all, per capita energy consumption increased with a CAGR 2.65% from 2010-11 to 2019-20 (P). Although the per capita energy consumption is increasing it is still much lower than the world average of 2.58 toe per person (IEA World Energy Balance 2020). The energy use per person in tonne(s) of oil equivalent starting from the year 2010-11 is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 3: Year-wise net availability of electricity in India…
Source: Energy Statistics 2021, Central Statistics Office Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India

The total electricity generation increased yearly with a CAGR of 5.63% from the year 2010-11 to 2019-20. In 2010-11, total electricity generation was 844.74 TWh, which increases to 1383.41 TWh in 2019-20(P).

Figure 4: Consumption of electricity by sector in 2019-20 in India…
Source: Energy Statistics 2021, Central Statistics Office Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India

Of the total consumption of electricity in 2019-20, the industry sector accounted for the largest share (42.69%), followed by domestic (24.01%), agriculture (17.67%), and commercial sectors (8.04%).Of the total consumption of electricity in 2019-20, the industry sector accounted for the largest share (42.69%), followed by domestic (24.01%), agriculture (17.67%), and commercial sectors (8.04%). Refer Figure 4.

Energy Mix in our country

The report clearly shows our maximum dependence on fossil fuel. India’s energy system is primarily based on coal for power generation. India is the world’s second-largest producer of coal, next to the People’s Republic of China. The share of coal in both the energy mix and the power mix in India is predominantly high, and in 2020 fossil fuel provided around 74% of the total electricity generation.

Due to the impact of government policies to promote renewable energy sources, the share of electricity from low carbon sources is increasing continuously since 2016 (Figure 5). This is well captured by the fact that while the installed capacity of renewable sources of electricity generation excluding hydro from utilities grew at 12% in the previous year (2020 over 2019), that of thermal sources grew only at 1.91%. Table 2 presents the share of electricity production by source in 2020.

Figure 5: Source-wise installed capacity of electricity generation in India…
Source: Energy Statistics 2021, Central Statistics Office Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India

Measures to improve the status quo

As per the BRIC Energy Report, India’s energy transition is characterized by its ambitious targets. By the year 2022, India seeks to provide all households in the country 24×7 power. By 2022, India also seeks to install 175 GW of Renewable Energy (RE) capacity. These national targets are aligned with India’s climate commitments made at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), also known as the Paris Agreement, which came into force in November 2016.

In its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), India committed to three targets to be achieved by the year 2030. It includes the following main elements:

  • To reduce the emissions intensity of GDP by 33%–35% by 2030 below 2005 levels;
  • To increase the share of non-fossil-based energy resources to 40% of installed electric power capacity by 2030, with the help of the transfer of technology and low-cost international finance, including from Green Climate Fund (GCF); and
  • To create an additional (cumulative) carbon sink of 2.5–3 Giga tonne CO2e through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.

As per, UN Environment Emission Gap Report 2019, developed countries like the USA, Republic of Korea, EU, Canada, Japan, and Australia needs additional policy initiatives to meet their NDC commitments requirement whereas developing nations like India, China, Argentina; with their stated policies are already on the track of meeting their NDC targets.

India’s NDC is currently rated ‘2°C compatible’ by the Climate Action Tracker (CAT. An updated NDC reflecting India’s current policy projections would be rated ‘1.5°C Paris Agreement compatible’. At the Secretary General’s summit in New York, India announced its intention to reach a target of 450 GW of renewables by 2030. The ramp-up of renewables in India can provide access to affordable power to all. For three consecutive years, renewable energy investment topped fossil fuel-related power investments, and in 2018, solar investments exceeded those in coal.

Significant points to be noted

The report categorically states that India adopted Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG-7) to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy to all. The goal stresses more focused attention to improve access to clean and safe cooking fuels and technologies, improve energy efficiency, increase renewable sources, and promote sustainable and modern energy for all. The targets adopted as a part of the Goal 7 of SDGs 2030 Agenda are as follows:

  • Ensure universal access to affordable, reliable, and modern energy services.
  • Increase the share of renewable energy in the national energy mix substantially.
  • Double the national rate of improvement in energy efficiency.

Providing secure, affordable, and sustainable energy to all is an important policy priority in India, and significant progress has been made towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals  (SDGs), notably SDG7 on energy. In April 2018, the Government of India (GoI) announced that India had achieved its goal of providing electricity to every village in India. Indian experiences can be taken up as a case study for Universal Access to Energy as we have taken some landmark initiatives towards electrification of all households. Under Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana –‘Saubhagya’ free electricity connections to all households were provided. There were around 3 Crore un-electrified households in the country as of October 2017 and as on March 2019, almost 100% electrification of households have been achieved.

Figure 6: Countries status to meet NDC…

To increase the share of renewable energy capacity (SDG 7.2), the Government set a renewable capacity goal of 175 GW by 2022, targeting 60 GW of utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV), 40 GW of rooftop solar PV, 60 GW of wind power, 5 GW of small hydro and 10 GW of bioenergy.

A few recent fruitful initiatives noted in the report

In the last six years, India’s installed Renewable Energy (RE) capacity has increased by over two and a half times and stands at more than 141 Giga Watts (including large Hydro).

The installed solar energy capacity has increased by over 15 times and stands at 41.09 GW.

India’s RE capacity is the 4th largest in the world. Its annual RE addition has been exceeding that of coal-based thermal power since 2017.

During the last 7 years, over USD 70 billion investment has been made in RE in India.

India has a very liberal foreign investment policy for renewables allowing 100% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) through the automatic route in the sector.

Established dedicated Project Development Cells (PDC) and FDI cells in all Ministries for handholding and facilitating domestic and foreign investors. PDCs have been established to develop investible projects in coordination between the Central Government and State Governments and thereby grow the pipeline of investible projects in India and increase FDI inflows.

Developed Renewable Energy Investment Promotion and Facilitation Board (REIPFB) Portal to provide one-stop assistance and facilitation to the Industry and Investors to develop projects and bring new investment to the RE sector in India.

Several members from the industry have voluntarily declared RE goals and committed to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), Renewable 100% (RE100), and Science-based targets (SBTs) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Rules are being framed for a ‘Green Tariff’ policy that will help electricity distribution companies supply electricity generated from clean energy projects at a cheaper rate than power from conventional fuel sources.

The Government of India is also promoting Green Hydrogen with obligations for Fertilizers and Refining industries (Green Hydrogen Purchase obligations).

Viability Gap Funding options for Offshore Wind Energy.

Green Term Ahead Market and Green Day Ahead Market.

Rules for facilitating renewable energy through Open Access.

Renewable energy procurement through exchanges will also be notified to promote non- conventional resources of energy.

Strategy Plan towards Developing an Energy Efficient Nation (2017-2031).

Potential to reduce 438 Million ton CO2 to 623 Million ton CO2 by 2030 by adoption of energy efficiency measures.


As a developing nation, under the supervision of our captain prime minister Narendra Modi, what India has done to prevent global climate deterioration that is truly commendable and copiable for many nations. Through this progress, India has proved that good planning, strong determination and consistent work can create excellence. The BRICS energy report clearly indicates that as far as the NDC target is concerned, India’s progress is praiseworthy – and definitely in the coming days our country will be a role-model for many other countries.

By P. K. Chatterjee (PK)  

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