India Dispatch: Markus Wrake is the project leader of energy technology perspectives at the International Energy Agency talks about the challenges facing India's energy sector.
Long-term focus needed for India's improved energy security
Markus Wrake is the project leader of energy technology perspectives at the International Energy Agency (IEA). Here he talks about the challenges facing India's energy sector.
What are the risks that India is facing in terms of energy?
There are several dimensions to India's energy challenge. First of all, they have a great issue with access. Making sure that people have access to reasonably affordable energy is a very high priority for India, of course. They have a rapidly growing economy. They have an increasing energy demand in general. They have quite a large number of infrastructure investment needs, so they need to invest a lot of money into their energy system, regardless of what kind of system they're looking for. We believe that fundamentally to keep and, even worse, to grow their dependence on coal in the long run is fundamentally unsustainable.
So India needs to consider its energy security in the long term?
The challenge for India is to think long term while meeting the very real short-term needs that they need to meet. We see the risk is that whilst striving to provide access to energy at affordable rates in the short term - which are commendable objectives - India might lock themselves into an energy system that over the mid to long term proves both insecure and unsustainable from an economic perspective.
Should India be putting more efforts into developing alternative energy solutions?
New solutions to energy, for example, through mini-grid solutions and low carbon options like solar and wind can also alleviate some of the problems with energy access. So instead of building or extending existing grids, it could be quicker and more affordable to provide energy through new technologies. There are no reasons why inefficiency couldn't be improved fairy rapidly in India.
Is is difficult to secure the finance to fund these ventures, though?
Money talks. If you're looking to rapidly scale up high-efficient, low emission technology fuels, you have to look at ways to incentivise investors.