- The India Energy Week in Bengaluru held from February 6th to 8th marks the first
- major event under India’s G20 presidency. The event highlighted the need for energy transition and energy security.
- Thus, this edition of the burning issue will elaborate on the concept of energy security and energy transition.
What is Energy Security?
- Energy security is the uninterrupted process of securing the amount of energy that is needed to sustain people’s lives and daily activities while ensuring its affordability.
- Per the International Energy Agency (IEA), energy security has two main aspects: long-term and short-term energy security. The former deals with investments in energy supply and how it connects to timely economic developments and environmental needs.
- The latter, on the other hand, mainly tackles how the energy system is able to carry out prompt responses to sudden changes in the energy supply and demand cycle.
Why Energy Security is important?
- Sustain economic growth: Access to energy affects the provision and sustainability of humans’ basic needs. Apart from that, it also contributes to a country’s economic growth, political stability, and overall development and security of other sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing.
- Sustainable energy planning: Along with energy accessibility, affordability, and sustainability, energy security forms a significant part of determining sustainable energy planning.
- Food security: Energy security is tied to food security and food transportation, in a way that the agricultural sector is both an energy user and an energy generator. Further, food production covers about 70% of water consumption and 6% of energy consumption on a global scale.
- The rapid growth of energy demand brought about by economic expansion, population growth, new energy uses, and income growth makes energy security a pressing concern.
What is Energy Transition?
- Energy transition refers to the global energy sector’s shift from fossil-based systems of energy production and consumption — including oil, natural gas and coal — to renewable energy sources like wind and solar, as well as lithium-ion batteries.
- The increasing penetration of renewable energy into the energy supply mix, the onset of electrification and improvements in energy storage are all key drivers of the energy transition.
- Regulation and commitment to decarbonization have been mixed, but the energy transition will continue to increase in importance as investors prioritize environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors.
- Historically speaking, energy transitions are not new. In the past, we have seen huge epoch-marking shifts like the transition from using wood to using coal in the 19th century or from coal to oil in the 20th century.
- The energy transition, however, is not only limited to the gradual closure of coal-fired power stations and the development of clean energies: it is a paradigm shift that concerns the entire system.
Why Energy Transition is needed?
- Paris deal commitment: In December 2015, at COP 21 in Paris, an international agreement has signed that set the target of limiting global warming by the end of this century to below 2°C compared with pre-industrial levels and preferably limiting it to 1.5°C. In order to achieve this goal, our main tool is the energy transition
- Protecting the Planet: The urgency of protecting the planet from the greatest threat it has ever had to face, and of doing so as quickly as possible. This impetus has accelerated the changes in the energy sector
Why the alignment of the two concepts seems difficult?
- Lack of financial resources: energy transition for energy security requires huge financial resources which most nations especially developing nations lack.
- Lack of mature new energy technology: most of the technologies which are needed for the energy transition such as 3rd generation bio-fuels, green hydrogen, fuel cell etc. are still in the developmental stage and require maturity to be deployed at large scale.
- Still heavy dependence on fossil fuels: due to their nature and availability, the world is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels for its energy need. Even developed nations like Britain, the US, Russia etc. still get their majority energy supplies in form of non-renewables.
- A wide gap between developed and developing nations: A sharpening divide between advanced and developing countries on priorities in the transition. The developed nations are pressurizing developing nations to go for energy transition whereas the developing countries demand developed nations to pay for this transition and blame them for the climate crisis.
- Balancing present with future: overnight transition to renewable is neither possible nor desirable. What is needed is to balance the needs of the present and future with a simultaneous and gradual reduction of non-renewables and increase deployment of renewable energy.
- Challenging international situation: such as the Russia-Ukraine war, high inflation, slow international growth has made nations to again go back to nonrenewable sources such as coal and natural due to more availability and cheaper price leading to increased demand for coal after a decade.
- No ideal energy mix: There is no ideal mix that will be unanimously adopted worldwide. The energy transition is specific to each country or group of countries, even if the aim during international climate summits is to adopt major global objectives.
- The transition process is slow: Energy systems lack momentum, making energy transitions a slow process.
How to bring equilibrium between the two?
- Increase funding to promising technologies: The expert view is that the government should consider innovative market reforms to further incentivize the deployment and uptake of renewable energy (RE). It pointed out that government should provide support for RE technologies, including utility-scale battery energy storage systems, round-the-clock plants, and decentralized renewable energy that can replace our dependence on thermal power plants.
- Risk management: To improve the energy security situation, risk management is key. This process involves eliminating risks by diversifying energy sources, absorbing risks by creating a reserve margin of power generation capacities, and preparing for inevitable supply disruptions by creating strategic reserves.
- Funding developing countries: the developed nations under their commitment made in Paris deal 2015 must provide the fund to developing nations to deploy renewable sources of energy.
- Reduce support for fossil fuels: The government should also avoid providing fresh support for coal-based thermal power and phase out existing support measures. In FY21, coal subsidies continued to be two times higher than that for RE and stood at ₹12,976 crore.
- Accelerate deployment of RE: India needs to invest in deflationary renewable energy. The pace of deployment of RE has been slow, so the government should accelerate the deployment of RE and other flexible generation sources to make RE a firm power
“The Stone Age did not end for lack of stone, and the Oil Age will end long before the world runs out of oil.”
- The energy transition is vital to saving the planet from the effects of climate change. Major transformations are underway in the global energy sector, from growing electrification to the expansion of renewable energy, upheavals in oil production and globalization of natural gas markets.
- India also needs to ensure long-term planning to ensure universal energy access and meet its commitment under Paris Agreement to ensure sustainable growth, energy security, and successful energy transition.
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