India’s energy consumption is set to grow 4.2% a year by 2035, faster than that of all major economies in the world, according to BP Energy Outlook.
India, Asia’s second-biggest energy consumer since 2008, had in 2015 overtaken Japan as the world’s third-largest oil-consuming country behind the US and China.
“We project that India’s energy consumption grows the fastest among all major economies by 2035. As a result, the country remains import dependent despite increases in production,” the publication said. India’s consumption growth of fossil fuels will be the highest by 2035 and it will overtake China as the largest growth market for energy in volume terms by 2030.
Globally, energy demand will increase by about 30% by 2035. Natural gas consumption will grow faster than either oil or coal, expanding at 1.6% a year.
Coal demand will peak in the mid-2020s, as China moves toward cleaner, lower-carbon fuels, the report said.
India’s gas demand to expand 162%, followed by that of oil (121%) and coal (105%). Renewables rise by 712%, nuclear by 317%, and hydro by 97%.
“A shift to renewable energy is required and several companies are moving in that direction,” says Suhail Nathani, the managing partner at Economic Laws Practice, based in Mumbai. “Traditional energy will always have a role to play, but a partially running traditional power plant is not economically viable and therefore will always face pricing challenges. As technologies develop, I envisage traditional power players establishing hybrid plants or integrating renewable energy power plants and seamlessly offering both renewable and traditional energy.”
“With advancements in technology, and with the price of solar and wind reducing, we are not only sure but confident that we will not only achieve the target, but exceed it,” said Anand Kumar, the secretary of new and renewable energy ministry, speaking at the Renewable Energy India Expo held in Delhi recently, which attracted more than 750 exhibitors.
Mr Kumar sees scope in improving renewables manufacturing, particularly solar manufacturing, in which he said India’s capabilities were “modest”. “We should set up manufacturing bases for batteries in India,” Mr Kumar said. “Once we overcome the obstacle of storage, then the ideal of 24-hour free energy for the people can be realized.”
He added that the ministry in recent meetings had “begun to take more seriously the potential of India’s offshore wind and hydropower capacities”, and hinted that “these technologies will be brought under the renewable energy target”.
Falling costs mean setting up solar energy solutions have moved toward becoming “economically reasonable” now for organizations, he included. Furthermore, Mr. Kumar said sluggish oil costs have made oil investment and exploration less attractive and this could likewise be a factor in traditional energy companies looking beyond dependence on fossil fuels at this point in time.
This implies there are chances to invest in renewable in India, industry insiders say.
In any case, there are huge difficulties with regards to moving into the renewable space.
“The cost is built into the installation,” says Mr Doshi. “You need money upfront to put up a large power plant and a manufacturing facility. Also, if you want to be huge in scale, you need a lot of land and therefore you need a lot of muscle in terms of the right network to acquire that land, whether it’s government permissions, whether it’s local accumulation of land.”
But the stakes are high.
With a continued move by traditional energy firms towards renewable sources in India, they can potentially help secure the future of their own businesses and play a role in achieving the country’s energy security.