Needed: An In­te­grated Min­istry of En­ergy

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page -

There is a strong case for an in­te­grated en­ergy min­istry. We need proac­tive poli­cies and vastly im­proved ef­fi­cien­cies across the en­ergy chain, and the way ahead is to have a sin­gle Cab­i­net-rank ap­pointee to over­see pol­icy co­or­di­na­tion and ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion and ef­fec­tive fol­low-through ac­tion in power, coal, petroleum and na­tional gas, re­new­able and non-con­ven­tional sources, It does make sense to con­sol­i­date power and coal un­der a min­is­ter of state (MoS), as Modi has done: pol­icy must en­sure ad­e­quate sup­ply of con­sis­tent qual­ity coal for power plants. But we also need to as­sure avail­abil­ity of gas for power gen­er­a­tion, which is why the MoS for oil should ideally re­port to an en­ergy min­is­ter. There is the need for sound, in­te­gra­tive poli­cies right across the en­ergy econ­omy. For in­stance, we need to ra­tio­nalise fuel prices holis­ti­cally, so that dif­fer­ent fu­els that are sub­sti­tutes do re­flect sim­i­lar scarcity value, so as to jus­tify in­ter-fuel choices, boost eco­nomic ef­fi­ciency and re­duce dis­tor­tions. In tan­dem, we need to op­ti­mise fuel and tech­nol­ogy choices to boost pro­duc­tion, sup­ply and dis­tri­bu­tion of en­ergy out­put, by ra­tio­nal­is­ing and re­vamp­ing cen­tral and state taxes on en­ergy sup­ply, for ex­am­ple. In par­al­lel, there is the need to shore up reg­u­la­tion and over­sight across the en­ergy chain, in­clud­ing in the min­ing and evac­u­a­tion of coal, our main source of commercial en­ergy. In par­al­lel, we need to in­cen­tivise de­mand-side man­age­ment in the en­tire en­ergy sec­tor and pro­mote re­search and de­vel­op­ment for rel­e­vant promis­ing tech­nolo­gies, span­ning coal, its gasi­fi­ca­tion, power and liq­uid fu­els as well. Fur­ther, we need to strengthen our en­ergy se­cu­rity to ef­fec­tively meet the sup­ply bot­tle­necks likely as In­dia picks up eco­nomic speed. An in­te­grated min­istry is the key.

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