Federation of Indian Chambers of
Commerce and Industry (FICCI) organised a discussion on January 21st
and 22nd 2009 on "Regional Security and Cooperation Dialogue" at New
Delhi. One of the main themes discussed in this "Delhi Dialogue" was "Energy
Security : The Way Forward for Asean and India". I had the privilege of
addressing this Session to highlight the energy security aspect in relation to
power. Other Speakers included Senior Officers from Ministry of External
Affairs, former Cambodian Ambassador to Japan and Visiting Research Fellow at
the Institute of South East Asian Studies, Singapore. The issues covered by me
and those highlighted by other distinguished Speakers are briefly outlined below
India's energy needs are likely to grow, in all the segments of energy, at
rates which should correspond to the target of over 9% of annual economic
growth rate over a long period of 25 years. This would mean that the energy
production growth should be atleast 7 to 8%.
respect of electricity, the Integrated Energy Policy has projected two
scenarios to support, in a comfortable manner, the GDP growth rates
projections. A conservative estimate suggests an electricity generation
growth rate of 8% and a little liberal rate suggested is 9%.
we take both these projections into account and present a balanced estimate,
India should be having an installed capacity of the order of 800 GW by the
year 2032 (end of XVth Five Year Plan), as compared to the
present installed capacity of about 145 GW.
These projections, though they may appear on the higher side, are absolutely
necessary to materialise to take care of (a) the present shortages in the
electricity supply which are as high as about 10% (average shortage) and
about 15% (peaking shortage), (b) the fact that more than 50% of rural India
is yet to be provided access to electricity, and such areas as have already
been provided electricity access are facing load sheddings of 10 to 15 hours
a day, in some cases even longer durations, and (c) in addition, the
economic growth rate, to be achieved on a sustained basis, of the order of
9%, will require, as a prerequisite, the propulsion of energy without which
such growth rates are impossible to be realised.
many ways, India's problems are unique. The task is challenging because such
huge capacity additions, which are imperative, are not required in any other
country, including in China, which, in last 25 years, have already added
more than 600 GW.
Even if we do not compare the per capita consumption of electricity between
India and developed nations, and limit it to the comparison with China,
India has achieved a level of 640 Kwhr per head per year as compared to
China which has achieved almost 2,000 Kwhr, more than three times of India.
Thus, India has a long way to go.
The Fourth Report of the IPCC projects a very discomforting scenario of
consequences of global warming. Obviously, China and India are adding large
capacities, India even of higher proportion, considering its baseline of
capacity. There is no choice if India has to reach the level of per capita
consumption in next 25 years, what China has already achieved.
the light of above challenges, the energy development strategy of India has
given set of options. It cannot but proceed on all possible options. The
sheer size of the needs is such that it can ill afford to leave certain
technology options in favour of certain other means and methods of producing
power, atleast in the medium term. For example, it will be impossible for
India if the option of coal based generation was to be left out. As a matter
of fact, its dominant role atleast in the medium term, cannot be wished
away. No doubt, cost effective clean coal technologies will need to be
deployed so as to minimise carbon emissions.
Considering the needs of environmental safeguards, one of the strategic
directions, which the country has finalised, is to implement massive
capacity addition programmes by harnessing the hydro electric potential of
the country, which is of the order of 150 GW. The present capacity is only
35 GW. There are major initiatives of the Ministry of New and Renewable
Energy to identify and execute a large number of micro and mini hydro
electric projects ranging from KW to 25 MW. Substantial supports are
provided by both the Central Government and concerned State Governments.
There are, no doubt, areas of concern in relation to large hydro electric
projects, particularly those which involve large areas of submergence and
are primarily storage projects. This issue is, in fact, a global issue.
Resistance to storage based hydro projects is a common phenomenon in most of
the countries. For last several decades, energy development relied heavily
on using fossil fuels. The technologies have been rather simple,
construction less complex and gestation periods to complete these projects
comparatively short. The world as a whole, under this background, started
discovering vices associated with hydro electric projects more than virtues
which these projects inevitable provide to the society. Climate change
concerns received somewhat diluted attention and priority. And, as a result
of misplaced thrusts and misconceived notions, what the world is faced today
is the consequence of global warming projected by the IPCC even though 80%
of hydro electric potentials which would have provided green energy to the
world, have remained unexplored and untapped. There is a need for a global
consensus on recognising all hydro electric projects as Renewable Energy
Schemes irrespective of their size and nature - whether run of river or
doubt, a major reason for large dam hydro electric projects being opposed
has been the less than required priority and attention to the issue of
rehabilitation and resettlement of project affected people. A few projects,
in which the project developers did not pay required attention, has been
responsible for creation of a mindset all over the world that storage
projects, as such, are responsible for hardships to the people and,
therefore, they must be opposed. Rehabilitation and resettlement, on a
liberal scale acceptable to the people, could reverse the trend of thinking
in favour of such projects which not only can provide renewable energy but
can be a source of channelized and regulated irrigation. Besides, these
Schemes are also able to manage and control floods and eliminate
difficulties and hardships caused by such floods.
is essential that a proper communication drive, including road shows, should
be conducted globally to convince people that harnessing the untapped hydro
electric potential could prove to be a substantial, if not total, answer to
ever increasing green house gases. Simultaneously, such a campaign must also
be directed towards the hydro electric project developers emphasising the
need for a more reasonable, liberal and generous approach towards
compensation, resettlement and rehabilitation. All care must be taken by
them to see that the local area is provided with required infrastructure,
amenities and avenues for earnings.
India's National Electricity Policy (2005) as well as Integrated Energy
Policy (2006) emphasise the need for upscaling the nuclear power capacity
from present less than 3% to about 7% by 2032, which means raising the
capacity from about 4,000 MW to about 60,000 MW in 25 years. Nuclear power
would thus constitute an important ingredient of India's programmes to
mitigate climate change concerns.
present, gas based power generation is about 10% of the total capacity. This
technology is environmentally more benign. Though, on account of shortage of
gas almost one third of the capacity remains unutilised, the discoveries in
Bay of Bengal have provided opportunities to India to substantially increase
the capacity, though in terms of proportion over a long period of time, the
overall contribution of gas based power generation may not be higher than at
Responding to the needs of power generation to be compatible with
environmental concerns, there are a series of programmes of the Government
of India to explore and tap all possible sources of new and renewable
energy. This approach and conviction has already made India one of the four
largest in the world, in the field of power generation through wind energy.
Generation through micro hydel, bio-mass, solar and other forms of
electricity generation through new technologies have been incentivised.
There is a thinking that such schemes should receive even better
encouragement, incentives and appropriate support and facilitation.
The Former Cambodian
Ambassador to Japan Mr. Pou Sothirak elaborated his paper on Energy
Security. He described, in detail, the difficulties and hardships that have
been caused on account of hydro electric projects developed by China on the
Mekong River. This paper, on the basis of the specific experience has
attempted to highlight the problems associated with storage based hydro
projects, particularly the difficulties that could be caused to the
countries downstream of the river. During deliberations, however, Mr.
Ambassador did appreciate the way sufficient care was being taken care while
developing hydro electric projects in India. The thrust of his articulation
was that hydro electric projects per-se were not to be discarded, but what
was needed is the appropriate sets of actions to take care of not only the
problems in the local areas but also problems that could be caused in the
countries downstream of the river.
After outlining the background of
the India's Energy Policy and Strategy, I also outlined, in brief, as given
below, the scope for Regional Cooperation between Asean and India in the field
The most important requirement would be the connectivity for transmission of
power. It is possible to connect India and Myanmar through an appropriate
power transmission grid. This will facilitate movement of power from one
country to another depending on the extent of surplus in either of them.
Similar connectivity may be considered for other countries but that would
require a more careful consideration because of intervening sea. With other
countries where connectivity will be comparatively easier, from the point of
view of logistics, feasibilities of such projects may need to be
Gas pipelines among the Asean Nations and India would be another initiative
that could facilitate enhancement of energy security in the region. This
infrastructure, subject to other commercial arrangements which could be
mutually arrived at, can lead to optimum utilisation of gas energy.
Myanmar has hydro electric potential, it is estimated, of the order of
80,000 MW. Myanmar's own needs for larger amount of electricity would
progressively increase but tapping these hydro potentials to export power to
other countries including India, which needs much more power, would be of
mutual benefits. Some studies have been undertaken in this regard and beyond
these studies some further understanding has also emerged in respect of
development of Tamenti Hydro Electric Project. This holds a good potential
and a good starting point. Successful development of this project may lead
to many more such projects being undertaken by Indian agencies including
those in the private sector. What will be needed is the right type of
support mechanism in Myanmar to deal with such initiatives, so that speedy
decisions are taken.
Among the Asean Nations there are coal reserves, such as in Indonesia. Their
own need is limited. Commercial exploitation of coal mines can provide good
source revenue for the country and could enhance energy security in the
region. A number of Indian companies, both in public and private sectors,
have, in last couple of years, started exploring acquisition of coal mines
in Indonesia. An institutionalised arrangement under the purview of Asean -
India Cooperation could facilitate required support to these companies so
that decisions are taken in an objective manner without protracted delays.
Such a co-operation would also provide, in a co-ordinated manner, authentic
information about details of coal reserves, characteristics of mines, status
about ownership of mines etc.
Some of the countries in the region, such as Singapore, have also started
divesting their power utilities. A number of Indian companies have shown
interests and have participated in the tender process. This is a good
development. This type of an initiative provides enormous scope for mutual
co-operation in the region and Asean - India Co-operation platform could
facilitate smooth implementation of such initiatives.
Finally, in the energy sector
among these nations, high standards and outstanding performance benchmarks
in different aspects of energy management, have emerged. Interactions among
the nations for sharing of such experiences could provide good scope for
capacity building to the mutual advantages of all the concerned nations.
These could also cover, apart from the supply side management issues
including energy production, the important need for effective Demand Side
Management (DSM) including energy efficiency. This is the need of the hour.
Energy saving is a global necessity. Effective steps in this direction would
mean a significant contribution towards mitigating climate change concerns.
This area of co-operation, therefore, can go a long way in not only
enhancing energy security in the region but may also make its important
contribution towards carbon reduction.
Energy is such a subject in which
co-operation among the nations has emerged as a global need. Different types of
permutations and combinations of such co-operation should emerge. The objective
should be to create a win-win situation. It can be nobody's case that untapped
hydro electric potential keeps getting wasted with water flowing out of
different river systems into the sea and its potential is not fully harnessed
for benefit not only of the concerned country but for others as well. This is a
clear case where nobody can be a loser and therefore such initiatives need to be
pursued with required conviction, commitment and urgency. Energy efficiency and
sharing of experiences of successes, as also failures, can be of great advantage
to all the participating nations. This is another example where everybody gains
and nobody loses and therefore this requires similar approach of committed
mutual understanding, co-operation and action.