There are a number of contributing factors which
lead to increase in the emissions of green house gases. But, energy production
and energy consumption both have the highest degree of impact on global warming.
Therefore, even though, there are other reasons, energy gets into the focus of
discussion as central to the issue of climate change and mitigation or
adaptation thereof. In the last twenty five years of economic growth and
industrial development, the issue of global warming started getting into sharper
focus. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was established in
1992 and now it has a membership of 192 countries. The objectives of this
Convention are - Green House Gas Stabilisation, Food Security, Sustaining
Economic and Social Development. The Convention recognised the principles of
common but differentiated responsibilities, towards mitigation of green house
gas emissions, among the nations. The most important global initiative under the
UNFCCC has been the initiative of Kyoto Protocol finalised and agreed in 1997.
Under this Protocol, countries where the industrialisation took place much
earlier and green house gas emissions are of comparatively larger order, were
identified to first bring down the emission level to 1990 as baseline, by the
year 2012, and then to further reduce it. Unfortunately, these countries,
identified as Annex-I countries not only did not bring down the emissions but,
by the year 2004, the emissions increased by more than 10%.
In the recent couple of years, this issue has
received further attention after IPCC Fourth Report came out highlighting the
serious and adverse consequences of global warming and climate change. The
Report also brought out that appropriate strategies and corrective actions
could, to a great extent, control the situation.
In preparation for the Copenhagen Conference, the
issue has, in the recent weeks, assumed even greater focus. The Conference is to
be attended by 192 countries and each country is preparing its own position in
the deliberations at the Conference. One of the Economic dailies, in its
editorial today (the 7th September, 2009), has also highlighted the
issue under the caption "Why is India fighting a losing battle on Green
Policies?". This piece has attempted to highlight that while India's position on
climate change discussions is understandable, is it getting isolated? While the
full content of this piece does not clearly bring out what it wants to suggest,
it does say that the U.S. and China may have a separate understanding. Kyoto
Protocol commitments have validity till 2012 and the whole world is looking at
the outcome of the Copenhagen Conference. The Bali Meet was not a great success.
Many believe that even Copenhagen deliberations may not turn out to be very
I had the opportunity to co-ordinate and moderate a
Round Table discussion on the subject of Climate Change organised by Infraline
Energy and IDFC at Delhi on 2nd
September, 2009. We had very comprehensive presentations by Shri R.S. Sharma,
Chairman and Managing Director of NTPC, Dr. P. Dadhich, of TERI and V.
Subramanian, Former Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. The
presentations were followed by detailed comments and questions - answers.
Firstly, I would like to highlight the salient
points made by the Panelists, starting from CMD, NTPC. It may be relevant to
mention that NTPC, within India and outside, is being particularly focused
because it is predominantly a coal based thermal power generating organisation.
Most of its capacity of over 30,000 MW comes from coal which constitutes 82%.
The company has a long term projection which takes it to about 50,000 MW by 2012
and about 75,000 MW by 2017. Since the company has also embarked upon hydro
power project development, its outcome would be available in next five to ten
years. As per the company's projection, in the year 2012, when the capacity is
targeted to reach 50,000 MW, coal based capacity marginally comes down to 80%,
gas based capacity at about 16% and hydro projects would constitute 4%. It is
expected that by the year 2017 there would be a visible reduction in the
proportion of coal based generation. With about 75,000 MW capacity then, the
coal is likely to come down to 70%, gas at 14%, hydro at 12%, nuclear at 3% and
other renewable at 1%. Therefore, NTPC will continue to be critically looked at
from the point of view of global warming and climate change. Indian power
sector, as such, is predominantly fossil fuel based. NTPC's strategy and action,
therefore, being the leader in the power sector, is, and would continue to be,
highly relevant in any deliberation on global warming. The points made by CMD,
NTPC, could be summarised as below:
The best of technologies available in coal based thermal power generation
must be deployed. Future programmes of the company rely heavily on super
The Carbon Sequestration Technology may be a technology of the future. As at
present, this technology does not seem to be practical in the context of
Indian power sector. We may have to wait for a while before further
researches are carried out and the technology is developed to a stage that
it could be deployable in Indian conditions. The technology does not provide
an acceptable level of efficiency, is highly costly and is also likely to be
unsafe if we are thinking in terms of geological storage. Therefore, long
term effectiveness of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is highly debatable
and concerns for safety are rightly higher. The CCS plants consume large
auxiliary power on account of capture process and on account of compression
of CO2. It is estimated that capture process may require as much
as 4% and CO2 compression almost 10% of auxiliary power. This
would obviously lead to significant reduction in effective capacity and,
therefore, power generation. Impact of CCS on cost of electricity,
therefore, is going to be enormous.
While I do agree with CMD of NTPC that CCS Technology, as such, will be
difficult to deploy in Indian power stations, we must participate in various
initiatives in India and abroad which are trying to perfect this technology.
It is with this consideration in mind that the Ministry of Power, Government
of India, with full support of the PMO and Finance Ministry, agreed, during
the year 2006, to participate, even financially, in the Zero Emission Future
Gen initiative of the U.S.A.
NTPC has, in a systematic manner, launched upon efficiency improvement
through renovation and modernisation. The objectives of the initiative
include capacity enhancement, restoration and efficiency enhancement, life
extension of old units, mitigating obsolescence, compliance of pollution
norms, equipment safety and improvement in system reliability.
NTPC's Green Plans include a shift to renewable energy generation consisting
of hydroelectric plants and also projects on bio-mass, besides adoption of
super critical process.
NTPC has also launched Energy Technology Research Alliance which aims at
development of Micro Marine Algae. This consumes thirty times more
carbondioxide than other plants like Jathropa. Already development of a
pilot project for 35 tonnes of CO2 per month at Simhadri is under
collaboration with NCL, Pune and CSIR, NTPC is also working on Cation
modified zeolytes with high CO2 selectivity.
Another study for conversion of CO2 to Methane on reaction with
hydrogen has been undertaken alongwith CSIR.
The company has also taken up
a solar thermal based air conditioning project.
Shri Dadhich of TERI emphasise the need for
appropriate measures by all concerned agencies to ensure that impact of green
house gas emission is kept under control. The salient points made by him are
The Scheme of Clean Development Mechanism has really not worked well. The
world as a whole has to evolve an appropriate mechanism under which carbon
market should play a key role.
The Fifth Report of IPCC has also come out. The Conference at Copenhagen
will need address all the issues highlighted in the Fourth Report as well as
in the Fifth Report of the IPCC.
CCS Technology has to be further examined to see how best it could be made
deployable in Indian context. Since Indian power sector has to continue to
rely heavily on fossil fuel, it should be our endeavour to search for all
possible technologies and methods which could appropriately address the
problems that could arise out of ever increasing CO2 emissions.
IGCC Technology has been under debate and discussion for a fairly long
period. Some work has been done at BHEL works. It is necessary that this
technology is taken up at larger scale with greater degree of seriousness.
Transport sector is a big
contributor to green house gas emissions. Efficient transport systems and
energy efficient vehicles are the only right solutions.
Shri V. Subramanian, Former Secretary, Ministry of
New and Renewable Energy, highlighted the role of renewable energy in the
context of climate change and brought out the following points:
must recognise that role of renewable energy, in the overall energy
development programmes, would be only marginal, but it will be very
important. For many years, contribution of solar energy will be negligible.
also need to recognise that while the capacity of renewable energy
(excluding hydro power plants) is 9%, the electricity generation is hardly
2%. This is because whether it is wind or solar systems, the capacity
utilisation is in the range of only 20-30%.
Bio-mass based energy does offer a good potential. But, supply of bio-mass,
in most cases, becomes an issue. Unless a good amount of captive plantation
is arranged, bio-mass based generation may continue to suffer the
uncertainty of availability of bio-mass at reasonable and expected price.
is estimated that captive power plants constitute almost 40,000 MW of
capacity. Most of these are diesel based. We may think of a Policy which
should oblige captive generation only through renewable energy.
Any non-transportation use of diesel may be allowed only with much higher
differential price, so that such generation of electricity is discouraged.
the National Action Plan on Climate Change, there is a provision for Mission
on Solar Energy. It would have been better if we had the Mission on
Renewable Energy. Solar energy in the near future may not provide a visible
contribution and impact. Therefore, the Mission could cover not only solar
but also wind and bio-mass could work out to be a more effective approach in
terms of deliverables.
Unfortunately, no private sector has done any visible research work on
renewable energy in India. Both public and private sector should mobilise
their efforts and resources, so that the technology is brought from the
laboratory to the market. The issues are - R&D, manufacturing, deployment,
financing and commercial innovation.
Long term concessional
finance would facilitate faster development and deployment of renewable
technologies. IDA types of loan with very marginal interest rate would be
more applicable and facilitative for these initiatives.
The subject of global warming and climate change is
so important and covers so many areas that any brief summary of these
deliberations would be difficult. However, I attempt to outline below a brief
summary of the deliberations:
Substantial shift towards development of hydro power projects, bio-mass,
wind, solar etc. as provided in the energy strategy would go a long way in
addressing the issues of global warming in so far as India's energy
development programmes are concerned.
major shift towards super critical technology in almost all larger thermal
power plants being developed will make a significant dent on CO2
emission reduction. This large scale movement to a new type of technology,
not very well in use in India, will require commensurate preparations for
taking care of operational and maintenance problems. These need to be
predicted and properly prepared for.
Deployment of IGCC Technology in the Indian power sector has been overdue.
Both NTPC and BHEL need to work in a more business like manner, rather than
a cold hearted approach given to it so far by both these organisations. This
could be done both on domestic coal as well as on imported coal. In order to
generate right level of confidence, perhaps if a start is made with imported
coal, which will lead to success. At a subsequent stage, the programme on
domestic coal would also succeed.
R&D in India aimed at clean coal technologies, relevant to Indian coal, will
need a joint effort by NTPC, BHEL and Coal India. Massive R&D Programme with
a reasonably good budget to be provided by all these three organisations,
with commitments, will definitely yield better results.
Largest number of CDM Projects, in the whole world, have been submitted by
Indian companies. CDM Scheme itself is becoming too bureaucratic taking
unduly long time and sometimes getting into irrelevant issues. What is
needed is an Indian CDM under which joint credits could be traded within
Hybrid Systems consisting of solar and gas based power generation, as well
as solar systems in wind turbine farms could prove more effective leading to
Long term financing with soft terms of interest rates may make a number of
new technologies viable. Organisations like PFC, REC and Banks could be
approached for considering such terms.
Nuclear power has been rightly recognised as a good source of our energy
development programme. This needs to be pursued with full commitment of all
concerned, because it does have a positive impact on climate change issues.
Pump Storage Systems could lead to better management of peaking power
requirement and, therefore, indirectly could lead to reduction in power
generation based on fossil fuel during peak hours, thus leading to reduction
in CO2 emissions.
Wasteful consumption of
energy is excessive. It is estimated that more than 20% of energy could be
saved only if we used right gadgets and right habits. Energy efficiency
initiatives of Bureau of Energy Efficiency on various fronts need to be
scaled up. Even if we could achieve a 10% reduction out of the 20% wasteful
consumption, it would have made a significant impact on climate change
India's position on climate change will most
probably be restated in the Copenhagen Conference. Our articulation that we are
one of the lowest emitters in the world in terms of per capita CO2
emissions and that India will ensure that its per capita emission shall not
exceed the average of the nationalised nations even in the future, is a very
sound proposition and appears completely logical. Our position that keeping in
view the various initiatives under the National Action Plan on Climate Change,
while India is taking all possible steps to see that its energy development
programmes do not lead to excessive CO2
emission but we cannot take a targeted reduction, is a fully valid argument. We
can expect that it should be possible for us to make the group of nations
appreciate our position on climate change.