PEREN­NI­ALLY SHORT ON POWER

Analysing prob­lems of the power sec­tor is es­sen­tial be­fore so­lu­tions can be found

Down to Earth - - CONTENTS - S B AGNI HOTRI , P C MAITHANI

AC­CESS TO EN­ERGY is an im­por­tant de­ter­mi­nant of the qual­ity of life. In­equal­ity of ac­cess to en­ergy for cook­ing, light­ing and liveli­hood pur­poses has en­gaged the at­ten­tion of re­searchers, pol­icy plan­ners and ac­tivists in re­cent years. In 2005, In­dia launched the am­bi­tious Ra­jiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyu­tikaran Yo­jana that aimed at uni­ver­sal elec­tric­ity ac­cess by 2009. Sim­i­larly, ef­forts to­wards uni­ver­sal ac­cess to mod­ern cook­ing en­ergy were ini­ti­ated by cre­at­ing an lpg dis­tri­bu­tion net­work and de­ploy­ing re­new­able en­er­gy­based cook­ing en­ergy so­lu­tions. In­ter­na­tion­ally too, in April 2011, the UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly de­clared 2012 as the In­ter­na­tional Year of Sus­tain­able En­ergy for All.

In­creased re­al­i­sa­tion of the fu­til­ity of busi­ness-asusual ap­proach—ex­pand­ing con­ven­tional en­ergy in­fra­struc­ture, par­tic­u­larly power—has led to a se­ri­ous search for al­ter­na­tives. Re­new­able en­ergy so­lu­tions pro­vide one such promis­ing al­ter­na­tive.

But be­fore com­ing to so­lu­tions, it is im­por­tant to

as­sess the na­ture and ex­tent of the prob­lem in the In­dian con­text. This can be done at three lev­els: Macro, Meso, us­ing data sets like the Na­tional Sam­ple Sur­vey Of­fice sur­vey

Mi­cro, us­ing the Cen­sus data at the district and the sub-district lev­els and, if pos­si­ble, at the vil­lage level.

The macro pic­ture in­di­cates the grav­ity of the prob­lem. To be­gin with, we will con­cen­trate on this pic­ture. Ac­cord­ing to Cen­sus 2001, as many as 84.7 mil­lion house­holds did not have ac­cess to elec­tric­ity. In Cen­sus 2011, the fig­ure has come down marginally to 80.7 mil­lion house­holds.

A break-up of the coun­try’s pop­u­la­tion into ru­ral and ur­ban seg­ments in­di­cates that about 75 mil­lion ru­ral house­holds (44.7 per cent of ru­ral pop­u­la­tion) lack ac­cess to elec­tric­ity, while only 5.8 mil­lion ur­ban house­holds (7.3 per cent of ur­ban pop­u­la­tion) lack such ac­cess. This makes the ex­tent of ru­ral ur­ban in­equal­ity ob­vi­ous.

The frac­tion of non-commercial en­ergy in the en­ergy con­sump­tion bas­ket is an­other macro-in­di­ca­tor. En­ergy forms that are not sold in the reg­u­lated mar­kets and are usu­ally pro­duced and con­sumed by an in­di­vid­ual house­hold are re­ferred to as non-commercial en­ergy. Use of non-commercial en­ergy has in­creased in ab­so­lute terms from 74 mtoe (mil­lion tonnes of oil equiv­a­lent) in 1961 to 174 mtoe in 2011. But it has come down in per capita terms from 169 kgoe (kilo­grams of oil equiv­a­lent) in 1961 to about 144 kgoe in 2011—not a sig­nif­i­cant de­crease (see ‘Skewed en­ergy equa­tions’ on p20).

Here it would be per­ti­nent to point out that the lat­est McKin­sey re­port ( Jan­uary 2014) puts the cur­rent con­sump­tion of non­com­mer­cial en­ergy at 160 mtoe. The re­port also reck­ons that con­sump­tion will stay at 160 mtoe till 2030 in a busi­ness-as-usual sce­nario. Even in an op­ti­mistic sce­nario aim­ing at en­ergy in­de­pen­dence, con­sump­tion of non-commercial en­ergy is pro­jected to come down only to 147 mtoe. It is ap­par­ent that the seg­ment us­ing non-commercial en­ergy is no one’s con­cern.

This can be fur­ther elab­o­rated when we

Ac­cord­ing to Cen­sus 2001, as many as 84.7 mil­lion house­holds did not have ac­cess to elec­tric­ity. In Cen­sus 2011, the fig­ure has come down marginally to 80.7 mil­lion

look at the meso pic­ture. The eco­nomic deciles-wise en­ergy con­sump­tion among ru­ral and ur­ban house­holds not just re­veals the ru­ral ver­sus ur­ban con­sump­tion in­equal­ity, but also shows the in­tra-ru­ral and the in­tra-ur­ban con­sump­tion in­equal­ity (see ‘Aver­age elec­tric­ity con­sump­tion per house­hold per month’). The data makes it clear that there is con­sid­er­able in­equal­ity in en­ergy con­sump­tion per house­hold per an­num in the ru­ral area. What is more dra­matic is the data re­lated to the re­gional in­equal­ity in the ac­cess to elec­tric­ity for light­ing pur­poses in ru­ral house­holds based on the Cen­sus 2011 data. A com­pact clus­ter of districts in the east­ern and north­ern re­gions still has nearly half the house­holds us­ing kerosene for light­ing in 2011 be­cause they lack ac­cess (see 2011 map on p20). This data re­in­forces the ur­gency of erad­i­cat­ing ba­sic en­ergy poverty, es­pe­cially since de­pri­va­tion in this clus­ter is a strongly en­dur­ing one: even in 2001, it was nearly the same clus­ter where more than 50 per cent house­holds were us­ing kerosene as source of light­ing.

More on this in the next piece where we will dis­cuss the dif­fer­ent sources of fuel and light­ing. S B Ag­ni­hotri is Sec­re­tary Co­or­di­na­tion, Cab­i­net Sec­re­tariat, New Delhi. P C Maithani is Di­rec­tor in the Min­istry of New and Re­new­able En­ergy. Views ex­pressed by the au­thors are their own and do not rep­re­sent views of their in­sti­tu­tions

C O U R T E S Y: C O R N E R S T O N E M A G . N E T

S AYA N TA N B E R A / C S E

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