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If India is to Align Itself With the Aim of the Paris Agreement, its Share of Electricity Generation from Non-Fossil Fuel Energy Will Have to Be 98%

16 May 2018

If GoI provides budgetary support for integrating variable RE, it will see a rapid increase in greener forms of energy, especially solar, for electricity generation, said a new report by the Council on Energy, environment & Water. The report noted that there is an urgent need for a India specific study up to 2050 on estimating the cost of integrating RE. According to the report, non-fossil fuels will already make up 48% of the electricity generated by 2030 & 59% in 2050, even if the producers and/or generators of RE pay for the integration costs. This could go up to 58% in 2030 & 74% in 2050 if this integration cost is not levied on producers & is borne through budgetary support. If there is budgetary support to absorb the cost of setting up solar energy infra. the report calculates, total subsidy outlay in 2015 prices would be Rs. 215,000 Cr., b/w 2015 & 2030, & Rs. 3,750,000 b/w 2030 & 2050. The actual subsidy that power distribution CoS received was Rs. 36,758 Cr. in 2013-14, Rs.45,584 Cr. in 2014-15, & Rs. 55,283 Cr. in 2015-16. The report calls for coal to bear the cost of this subsidy. B/w 2010-11 & 2016-17 India collected a coal cess of Rs. 56,600 Cr., & the amount collected in the next 15 years will provide sig. financial support to subsidize RE integration cost. Greener electrification is a necessity for India. With rising incomes in urban & rural India, the/ capita household consumption of electricity will rise four times in rural households & five times in urban, by 2050 relative to 2015, found the report. India needs to be better prepared for such a transition. Solar energy demands large tracts of land, the availability of which could be an "impediment". Report terms land acquisition in India, a challenge. It cannot be done without keeping the welfare & rehabilitation of local populations in view. Additionally, India's population is expected to rise by 20% by 2050, straining land resources. The shift from coal to RE will also mean loss of jobs for those working in former sector, who cannot automatically be absorbed into jobs opened up by RE as “it is not necessary that the states that lose coal-based jobs & revenue will gain from the solar boom”, says the report. Principles, based on equity, charge countries with a history of emissions; mostly the western countries with a past long steeped in industrialization; to carry the larger burden of addressing climate change, as compared to India & the rest of the global south. Report, however, says India could bear a disproportionate responsibility to cut emissions for the world, but at the cost of this equity. Based on these considerations, if India is to align itself with the aim of the Paris Agreement; to halt the rise in global temperatures to 2 degree Celsius increase limit; its share of electricity generation from non-fossil fuel energy will have to be 98% by 2050.

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