‘A just transition and investor confidence are key to net zero’

NEW DELHI : India’s roadmap for energy transition and net zero carbon emission would require a just transition and healthy investor confidence, sector experts who took part in Mint Energyscape 2022 said.

Speaking at a panel discussion on ‘India’s Energy Transition Pathways and its Global Impact’ during the 18 November conclave, Suman Sharma, managing director, Solar Energy Corp. of India (Seci) noted that government intervention is important to achieve energy transition, and, on this front, the government machinery is working in tandem to facilitate this transition.

Other speakers on the panel were Gauri Singh, deputy director-general, International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), Pramod Agrawal, chairman, Coal India Ltd (CIL), Rajesh Kumar Srivastava, chairman and managing director, Oil and Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC), and Sharad Pungalia, managing director and chief executive officer, Amplus Solar.

“It’s not just a transition, the transition has to be a just transition,” Sharma said. Just transition refers to energy transition where it is ensured that substantial benefits of a green economy transition are shared widely, while also supporting those who may lose economically , including countries, regions, industries, communities, workers or consumers.

“Leveraging economies of scale and the government policies give a big boost to investor confidence and the world knows that if you invest in India, it’s a different picture now,” she said.

Singh at Irena said climate summits that have taken place since the signing of the Paris Accord have not delivered big outcomes.

Referring to the current market for renewables in India, Singh said the market is quite conducive for investors in the country, and that there was robust investor confidence with ease in liquidity access.

Highlighting the significance that coal has in India’s energy landscape despite the country’s shift towards renewables, Coal India’s Agrawal said: “Coal is critical to India’s energy security considering our energy consumption and will continue to be one of the cheapest resources.”

He said although coal appears to be on its way out of the energy scenario in India, its role will diminish only in the next 10-15 years.

Speaking on the global perspective regarding India’s role in energy transition, Srivastava at ONGC said: “When we talk about energy transition at this juncture, the world looks at India in two aspects, one, its growth trajectory, its requirement of the energy as well as the emission control.” Srivastava also noted that the maharatna energy major has begun its journey from being a fossil fuel focused company to an integrated firm with diversified interests. He also outlined few initiatives of the state-run oil and gas producer. Srivastava said ONGC will produce 500 MW of solar power and the company is also in talks with Norway’s oil refining company Equinor on a mega project for Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (CCUS).

Emphasizing on the role of green hydrogen, Pungalia at Amplus Solar said, “Green hydrogen would play a key role in India’s energy transition. We made the right noise at the right time, but lots to be done to make it affordable.”

Raising concerns over government processes at the state level, Pungalia said there are lots of promises at the central level for the power sector, but implementation at the state level lags.

During the panel discussion, Sharma of Seci also stressed on the role of India in green hydrogen production and use, and said the world was looking at India with great hope for the supply of green hydrogen.

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