From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : Paper 3- Issues with rapid transition to green energy
Europe’s push for renewable energy at the cost of conventional fuel may end up causing a global food crisis.
Consequences of fuel shortage in Western Europe
- Since August 2021, Western Europe has faced a problem with renewable energy – the wind doesn’t always blow when needed and the sun doesn’t always shine.
- Commodity markets across the world operate on a balance of demand and supply — even seemingly “small” changes in either side of a few percentage points can push the prices up or down sharply.
- High energy bills: Higher gas prices have pushed up energy bills for households and are expected to impact household spending and consumption as well.
- High urea prices: Natural gas is used to produce urea – if gas prices go up, fertiliser also becomes expensive.
- Some poor and middle-income countries are already starting to face problems of fertiliser availability — there are reports from several Indian states as well.
- High food prices: The impact of expensive fertiliser will be felt some months down the line as expensive fertiliser and reduced harvests push up food prices.
- India is relatively less affected as the share of natural gas in the country’s energy mix is low but will still face problems due to high food prices.
- In 2007-08, when oil prices were high, there was a push to use “biofuels” led by the US and Europe.
- The effects of the 2008 food price crisis were felt around the world, especially by the poor.
Lessons for India
- Cheap and reliable energy sources should not be abandoned until the alternatives have been stringently stress tested.
- India will be especially hard hit if oil prices spike as it imports close to 1.4 billion barrels of oil annually.
Consider the question “What are the inherent dangers in rapid transition to the green energy? Suggest the way forward for India.”
A blind push to shut down traditional sources of energy and move to less reliable “clean” energy can have second and third order effects.