Empowering India's Sustainable Future: Energy Efficiency and Green Innovations

According to the estimate of net zero emissions by 2070, most energy demand growth in this decade would be met by low-carbon energy sources. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has therefore announced more ambitious targets for 2030, including adding 500 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity, reducing the economy's emissions intensity by 45 percent, and cutting 1 billion tonnes of CO2.

November 16, 2023. By News Bureau

Since the start of 2023, according to the latest World Economic Forum report, India stands out as the only major economy advancing on all fronts of the energy transition. 

The country's energy market is witnessing a growing emphasis on energy efficiency and climate action. The Indian government has been proactive in pursuing initiatives and policies to address climate challenges and promote sustainable energy practices. 

Scope for further growth in energy demand and infrastructure is huge
India ranks third in energy consumption globally, thanks to rising incomes and improved living standards. Since 2000, energy consumption has doubled, with coal, oil, and solid biomass still meeting 80 percent of demand. India consumes and emits less energy per capita than the world average, as well as producing less steel and cement. 

The number of Indian households purchasing upgraded air conditioning units, appliances, and vehicles will increase in the coming years. India will need a power system the size of the European Union over the next twenty years to meet its electricity demand.
Coal has underpinned the expansion of electricity generation and remains the largest single fuel in the energy mix. Oil consumption and imports have grown rapidly on account of rising vehicle ownership and road transport use. Biomass, primarily fuelwood, makes up a declining share of the energy mix but is still widely used as a cooking fuel.

Despite recent success in expanding coverage of LPG in rural areas, 660 million Indians have not fully switched to modern, clean cooking fuels or technologies.
What it entails? 
  • India has sizeable and growing energy needs, and with this, comes the prospect of spiraling greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).
  • Energy access has been greatly improved, but the country must continue to expand its energy network and diversify its fuel supply.
  • With the use of low and no-emission technologies, the country's path to decarbonization could be net-positive.
  • A successful model created by India can be replicated throughout other economies, resulting in benefits for billions of people around the world.
 As India's clean energy transition accelerates, the world benefits
According to the estimate of net zero emissions by 2070, most energy demand growth in this decade would be met by low-carbon energy sources. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has therefore announced more ambitious targets for 2030, including adding 500 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity, reducing the economy's emissions intensity by 45 percent, and cutting 1 billion tonnes of CO2.
Impactful trends in the energy sector
Energy Efficiency 
In 2010, it was estimated that electricity consumption would have to triple by 2030 to bring 300 million people out of poverty in India. Eventually electricity use will have to be increased. But how we use electricity is important. McKinsey estimates that energy-efficient technologies can reduce 40 percent of global CO2 emissions. Therefore, switching to the best available technology (BAT) can immediately make electricity available to more people. Switching to BAT will reduce consumption growth to 1.8 times from the originally projected factor of 3.
Digitization/Leveraging AI in the Energy Sector
According to the World Economic Forum, digitalization or AI will play an important role in the world's transition to clean energy. By forecasting supply and demand more accurately, efficiency gains will be generated. Moreover, decentralized models of power generation and distribution are replacing centralized models, where more power is generated by smaller, localized power grids (such as solar, wind farms), and complex algorithms need to be used to coordinate the integration of these networks.
Green Hydrogen, Biomass, and CCU’s
India's pivotal role in the global energy scenario is bolstered by its supporting infrastructure and synergies for green hydrogen manufacturing, consumption, and delivery. Hydrogen facilitates renewable energy diversification across key sectors, boosting renewable energy's share in electricity, enabling clean transportation, and decarbonizing vital industries. 
We are seeing a strong trend towards using biofuels and biomass to generate energy. Biological matter (crops like sugarcane, or even waste materials) can be converted into fuel through thermal, chemical, and biological processes. Bioethanol and biodiesel are produced through fermentation. 
According to the International Energy Agency, a 6 percent de-carbonization from carbon capture and reuse could lead to 126 million tons of CO2 reduction, equivalent to 17 GW of coal-fired capacity decarbonization by 2030.
New Technology in Renewables, Energy Storage and Smart Grids
India’s goal is to increase the share of renewable energy in the national energy mix to 40 percent by 2030, which will require 300 gigawatts of fresh renewable capacity. On the other hand, it will limit additional conventional energy capacity to 75 gigawatts in the coming decade.
New technologies like floating solar, offshore wind, wind–solar hybrid and storage will play a crucial role in India attaining this target. Without adequate storage technology, renewable sources such as solar and wind can be unreliable due to their intermittent nature. Improved battery technology will make it easier to store excess electricity generated from renewable sources. 
Smart grids enhance power efficiency through advanced tech, balancing supply and demand, lowering costs. They act as a support system to distribute energy resources in bidirectional diversified networks, to optimize efficiency and to minimize losses. We can expect a global surge in smart grid deployment that empowers distributed power generation.
A new generation of photovoltaic panels for solar power generation was introduced in 2022 result of advancements in engineering. In addition, turbine blades used in hydro and wind power generation utilize novel arrangements of structural fibers. This creates turbines that are stronger, and more resistant to damage by environmental erosion, and structural fatigue.
District Cooling and Heating, Smart Buildings
Technologies like district energy and thermal energy storage, which combine cooling and heating, offer highly efficient and affordable solutions to minimize the ‘heat island effect’ in cities. In a smart building, all technologies are managed through a central software, acting as the building's ‘operating system.’ This integration enables stakeholders to command-and-control various systems, resulting in streamlined operations and enhanced energy efficiency. The integration of renewable energy systems, such as solar panels, further reduces reliance on grid electricity, contributing to overall energy efficiency and environmental sustainability.
Electric Mobility 
Under favourable policies, electric vehicles (EVs) can significantly boost renewable energy integration. In 2022, India experienced a remarkable surge in EV adoption, with electric car sales quadrupling to 48,000 vehicles from the previous year's 12,000. Two-wheeler EV sales reached an impressive 7 percent, while electric three-wheelers dominated at 55 percent of new sales, surpassing China's figures at 450,000 compared to 350,000. NITI Aayog and e-FAST's initiative for the electrification of trucks towards electrifying the truck is a crucial milestone in India's journey towards net zero emissions using EV manufacturing. 
India's Forward-Thinking Initiatives
India's commitment to advancing energy efficiency is evident through groundbreaking initiatives like the G20 Strategic Plan, accelerating energy efficiency across all demand sectors by 2030. The Indian Government's five-point action plan for net-zero by 2070 further drives decarbonization innovation.
Anchored in energy efficiency, green innovations, and collaborative efforts, India's journey towards a sustainable energy and climate future empowers us to make a significant impact in mitigating climate change and building a resilient world for future generations. Together, let us seize opportunities and work unitedly to forge India's sustainable future.

- Ravichandran Purushothaman, President, Danfoss India
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