Natural Gas – Fuelling India’s energy transition

As per the BP Statistical Review of World Energy published in June 2022, around 82% of global energy needs in the year 2021 were met through polluting fossil fuels. These fuels, upon burning release large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO₂) which is a greenhouse gas (GHG) primarily responsible for global warming. As per IEA report 2021, 89% of global CO₂ emissions in 2021 came from fossil fuels and industry. The climate related disasters happening all over the world will not stop until rise in global temperature is checked through energy transition, that is, replacing polluting fuels with cleaner energy sources. In a bid towards energy transition, 130 countries have pledged to achieve Net Zero by 2050.

India is the world’s third‐largest energy consumer after China and USA and also happens to be the third largest emitter of carbon dioxide. China and India have declared to achieve the Net Zero targets by 2060 and 2070, respectively. The task to achieve Net-Zero by 2070 by India will be an uphill task as our 90% of energy requirement is met from fossil fuels. The scale of transformation in India is stunning as our economic growth has been among the highest in the world. We cannot afford to address climate change at the cost of economic growth. We need a holistic approach to energy for reducing emissions with the involvement of multiple fuels so that investments made in creating energy infrastructure are not a waste. We need to continue expanding our energy basket and reduce over-dependence on coal and oil to manage energy transition. Experts believe that India must go through multiple phases of the energy transition. In this context, many believe that Natural Gas could play the role of a transition fuel. However, I strongly believe that Natural Gas has a more prominent role to play in India’s energy transition than just being a bridge fuel. Natural Gas being a greener fuel, has a strategic role in reducing carbon emissions. It is quite versatile in serving as a low carbon option for all sectors including heating, cooking, transport, and industrial applications. The fast and cost-effective way to bring sustainable energy transition in the power sector is through combined deployment of renewables and gas-fired generators.

The Indian Government has undertaken various sector friendly reforms and policy measures across the Natural Gas value chain to ensure overall development of the sector, thereby propelling India towards achieving a sustainable energy transition. Creation of National Gas Grid and expeditious development of City Gas Distribution (CGD) network infrastructure will enhance share of Natural Gas in India’s energy basket from current level of 6% to 15% by 2030. Deteriorating air quality and environmental pollution in cities will be the drivers for promoting natural gas in place of other fossil fuels such as coal, diesel, and fuel oil. Considering the ability of LNG as a fuel in trucks in reducing sulphur and nitrous oxide related emissions to a larger extent, LNG stations are being setup across major highways and industrial corridors. Low-carbon gases such as hydrogen, biogas, and natural gas with CCUS can be helpful in decarbonisation of various energy sectors.

Akhil Mehrotra
MD & CEO, Pipeline Infrastructure Limited (PIL)

India needs to step up R&D efforts, last-mile implementation, and manufacturing efforts at unprecedented scales to enable seamless and cost-effective transitions, along with collaboration by all the relevant stakeholders to develop a sustainable roadmap for India’s energy sector, both from an economic and decarbonisation perspective. Also, we need to be mindful of the fact that we are not creating duplicate energy infrastructure and investments are not going down the drain. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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