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Light of India

Interview with Shri Ajay Kumar Bhalla, that illustrates the next steps of Delhi to sustain India's future energy growth.

by Giancarlo Strocchia
29 November 2018
5 min read
byGiancarlo Strocchia
29 November 2018
5 min read

India could be the global economic power with the most rapidly increasing growth of new and widespread development. With a population of around 1.4 billion, India has made economic growth its top priority to help the most vulnerable sections of the population to escape from social exclusion and lack of employment. According to some recent estimates, in 2017 the Indian economy grew by 7.2 percent, almost 1 percent higher than the most optimistic forecasts and one of the highest growth rates globally, higher even than the very healthy but lower than expected rate of 6.9 percent for China and 2.5 percent for the United States. As for Europe, no European country is able to compete with such growth rates. India's growth, moreover, is driving the economies of poor countries like Bangladesh, (+13%), Nepal (+7.4%) and Pakistan (+5.3%) which, as neighboring countries, benefit from the positive effects of growth in the Asian sub-continent. A key factor for sustaining this success continues to be access to energy, which still has not reached the level required for a large global economy. This fact was also confirmed by Shri Ajay Kumar Bhalla, India's Secretary for the Ministry of Power of the Government of India, Shri Ajay Kumar Bhalla, during the following interview.

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His Excellence, which is, at the actual moment, the most important target in term of energy projects for India?

Immediately we are looking at electrification of all the households, and we need to complete it by December of this calendar year. We have about 7% households which are still unelectrified, which is in terms of numbers about 15 million households. We have already, in the last one year, we have electrified 17 million households. These 15 we are doing in the next 3 to 4 months, and that is one of the biggest target of bringing everybody in the country as part of the electricity system. Many of these households will be on the grid, but there are some solar stand-alone solutions also for some of the remote hilly areas we cannot reach.

In terms of oil demand, we know that the economy of India is growing, the population is growing, so probably in the future you preview to increment this demand and in which measure?

See, we need to decarbonise our economy, we have to reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels. We have plenty of coal resources available within the country which is the mainstay of electricity generation, but now we are bringing in a big quantum of renewable energy: 175 gigawatt capacity would be installed by 2022. Today of course we have what's 70 gigawatts, so hundred plus we need to bring in more. We expect that these are the things which will change our dependence on fossil fuels, especially crude oil imports. Another intervention we are looking forward to is e-mobility. We are going to bring e-mobility in a big way by 2030 and we expect that it will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, so that's how we are intending to tackle the dependence on imported fossil fuels.

Regarding energy infrastructures, which are the main projects that India is realizing actually?

Talking about the power sector, we have been now a generation capacity of 344 gigawatt and we are taking it to nearly 500 gigawatt by 2022, a largely addition of renewable energy. I don't see any major problem in this, as well as capacity of generation is concerned. Over the last four years we have added plenty of infrastructure on transmission site, again today we have very good transmission capacities in all over the country, our goal is becoming “one nation one grid”, I don't see any problem on that front.  The third level is the distribution of electricity in the provincial states: there we are already spending lot of money. There’s an area concerned where we need to strengthen and building modernise infrastructure. We need to bring smart meters, we need to bring smart grids, so that'll be an area concerned in the next 3 to 4 years, what we are looking at in strengthen it.

India is also focusing much of its energy diversification strategy on LNG imports, from the United States for example. How are these plans evolving?

See, we had certain gas fuels in India and we had planned some of the projects based on those projections, but there's been decline of some of those gas fuels. Presently we are importing some requirement of our country from various countries I would say, including US.

World is concentrated on the development of circular economy, which would be a sort of revolution in terms of projects, also in the energy sector. Which will be the contribution of India?

We definitely India subscribe to that. We have certain commitments to COP21by this agreement, where wehave to reduce our emissions, so we are resorting to all different applications. One of the important one in our country we have done, is on an energy efficiency front. We have definitely brought in use of LED bulbs, we have broadened Energy Conservation Building Code to save on energy sign and now we are focusing on waste to energy plants also, biomass based generation, and we would definitely look forward to that we have zero waste solutions.