Energy Transition in India

Date01 January 2017
Published date01 January 2017
Subject MatterArticles
Energy Transition in
India: Role of Climate
Change Policies in
Energy Security
Nandakumar Janardhanan1
Energy transition is a strategic necessity for countries that are dependent on
fossil fuel sources. Several factors demand this shift. First, the over-dependence
on fossil fuels is one of the major reasons for the increasing energy-related emis-
sions. Second, for the countries that are relying on overseas supply of fossil
fuels, increasing import bill is a major economic burden. Third, the conventional
hydrocarbon fuels, especially oil and gas resources, have been facing the vari-
ous geopolitical vulnerabilities. The challenges that affect its production, trans-
portation and supply lead to price volatility in the market, which directly affect
the import-dependent economies. Transitioning to a mix of cleaner sources is
critically important not only to reduce overseas dependency but also to curb
energy-related emissions and vulnerability to price fluctuations. While geopo-
litical, economic and security reasons often termed as the major factors that
catalyse the energy transition, concerns about climate change remain to be the
cardinal element that drive the process in today’s world. This article examines
the role of India’s climate change agenda as it takes the central stage in the energy
transition process.
Energy transition, energy security, climate change, geopolitics, low carbon
development, co-benefits
International Studies
54(1–4) 231–249
2018 Jawaharlal Nehru University
SAGE Publications
DOI: 10.1177/0020881718791851
1 Assistant Professor, Energy Studies Programme, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru
University, New Delhi, India.
Corresponding author:
Nandakumar Janardhanan, Assistant Professor, Energy Studies Programme, School of International
Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi 110067, India.
232 International Studies 54(1–4)
Fossil fuel sources have been traditionally meeting significant share of urban
energy demand in India. Development of alternative sources has only received
little importance despite the huge potential it has in meeting the demand for
energy in India’s rural areas. Hence, until the end of last decade, energy transition
as a policy mechanism only appeared as fragmented initiatives. However, with the
formation of the ‘National Action Plan for Climate Change (NAPCC)’, which
consolidated the climate mitigation agenda of the country, the policy measures
contributing energy transition gained greater policy attention. For the target of
reducing emission intensity and meeting the economic goals, transition to cleaner
fuels offers various environmental and economic co-benefits. The climate agenda
not only brought in various key governmental institutions for this common target
but also helped raise awareness among the national as well as sub-national gov-
ernment machineries. While the policy mechanisms prescribed action plans in
mission mode, various legal tools that already existed in the country paved way
for better implementation of these efforts. It is also important to note that various
market mechanisms that emerged as part of the climate mitigation policies also
contribute to energy transition by promoting both supply side and demand side
energy management measures. To understand the energy transition better, this
article explores the energy use patterns in the post-intendent period in India.
Changing Energy Consumption and Debates in India
The debate over what is energy security in the Indian context and how it has
been shaped by various domestic as well as external factors have gained notable
attention from policymakers and academia. However, the major dilemma in this
debate is the fact that the understanding of energy security within India was
largely influenced by the Anglo-Saxon perception, where one links the uninter-
rupted supply of petroleum sources (mainly oil) as the key determinant for
national security. This is despite the fact that in India’s basket of ‘commercially
traded energy sources’, the share of coal has been far higher than the rest of the
energy sources. While India is not energy deficient as it is endowed with fossil
fuel reserves as well as renewable energy and hydropower potential, the fear of
oil supply disruptions affecting the national security was often overstated. Here,
one can draw a clear link between the domestic perception of energy security
and how is has been influenced by the developed world’s perception. One of the
reasons behind this narrow approach towards energy security was the rise of
petroleum resources to prominence in the country since the 1970s. In the imme-
diate years after independence, the share of non-commercial energy sources was
higher than the commercially traded fuels. Later, the share of commercially
traded fossil fuels grew in the total energy basket, overtaking the non-commer-
cial fuels towards the end of the 1960s.
The evolution of domestic energy sector in the post-independent era can be
broadly divided under four different time periods. First, the period during which

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT