- Wealth from stubble
- Contesting neighbours, revised geopolitical playbooks
- Women at the heart of recovery
Wealth from stubble
Context: Crop residue could be turned to biofuel, but farmers require proper incentives, handholding.
GS Paper 3: Environmental conservation; Environmental pollution and degradation; Environmental Impact Assessment.
- The government’s on-going energy sector policies aim “to provide access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy”. Examine this statement in context of the government initiatives related to renewable energy. 15 marks
- Processing agriculture residues to bio-CNG and compost will benefit many more farmer households, with manifold collateral benefits that accrue from assured availability of sustainable energy/ mobility. Discuss 15 marks
- Give an account of the current status and the targets to be achieved pertaining to renewable energy sources in the country. Discuss in brief the importance of Gobardhan Scheme and National Policy on Biofuels. 15 marks
- What is waste to energy?
- Stubble management and waste to energy.
- Current status of overall energy in India.
- What are the challenges regarding energy in India?
- Measures to improve the status of energy in India
- Way forward
What is waste to energy?
Waste-to-energy (WtE) or energy-from-waste (EfW) is the process of generating energy in the form of electricity and/or heat from the primary treatment of waste, or the processing of waste into a fuel source. Crops residue can be major source to generate renewable energy and also helpful to address the pollution related issues in north India.
Stubble management and waste to energy: Options for stubble management are broadly on-field management, alternate cropping and processing to biofuels.
1: On Field Management: It involves mulching the stubble into fields by customised machinery. For better management, the government should give subsidy to farmers so that they can adopt better technology to manage the stubble on their farms.
2: Alternative crops: The government should incentivise the farmers of Punjab and Haryana so that they can shift from wheat and rice to other climatic crops e.g. the cultivation of silage crops (hybrid sorghum, hybrid Napier grass, maize)
3: Processing of Biofuels: Followings are the way to process the biofuels:
- Solid Biofuels: These comprise briquettes and pellets. Briquettes are fired in industrial boilers or combustors but the demand in Punjab and Haryana is not high.
- Liquid biofuels encompass bioethanol, drop-in fuels, bio-oil, bio-methanol. The current focus is on 2G Ethanol
- Gaseous biofuels include producer gas, biogas and green hydrogen. The current focus is on biogas upgraded to Bio-CNG, with co-product being compost.
Current status of energy in India:
- India’s energy mix is dominated by coal with a 49.6 per cent share, followed by oil (28 per cent), biomass (11.6 per cent), gas (7.3 per cent), renewable and clean energy (2.2 per cent) and nuclear energy (1.2 per cent).
- India is the world’s third largest energy consumer. However, in 2017, its per capita energy consumption was about 625.6 kilogram of oil equivalent (kgoe) against the world average of 1860 kgoe.
- On energy supply, India is still heavily dependent on petroleum imports to meet its requirements – we imported approximately 82 per cent of crude oil and 45 per cent of natural gas requirements during 2017.
Challenges related energy sector in India:
1: Overall energy: Subsidies and Taxes
- A variety of subsidies and taxes distort the energy market and promote the use of inefficient over efficient fuels.
- They also make Indian exports and domestic production uncompetitive as energy taxes are not under GST and hence, no input credit is given. This is a serious lacuna.
- As the gap between the average cost of supply (ACS) and average revenue realized (ARR) persists due to high aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses, distribution companies (discoms) use load shedding to minimize losses.
- Unmetered power supply to agriculture provides no incentive to farmers to use electricity efficiently.
- High industrial/commercial tariff and the cross-subsidy regime have affected the competitiveness of the industrial and commercial sectors.
3: Oil and Gas:
- Non-discriminatory access for private and public sector companies to the gas pipeline network does not exist.
- Lack of market-driven gas prices for old fields disincentivizes further production.
- There is a tendency to expand opencast mining and discourage underground operation even for better quality coal reserves. This aggravates the land availability problem.
5: Renewable energy:
- High energy costs result in reneging on old power purchase agreements (PPAs) and erode their sanctity. This leads to uncertainty regarding power offtake and consequently endangers further investments.
- Flexibility in generation and balance requirements for the integration of renewable energy are emerging as major issues.
6: Energy efficiency:
- Limited technical capabilities, high initial capital expenditure, limited market and policy issues have adversely affected efforts to achieve energy efficiency.
- The non-availability of sufficient credit facilities and difficulties in obtaining required finances for energy saving projects are strong deterrents to investments in energy efficiency in India.
Measures to improve the status of energy in India:
1: Overall energy:
- Oil, natural gas, electricity and coal may be brought under GST to enable input tax credit.
- Have the same GST rate for all forms of energy to enable a level playing field.
- All form of subsidies should be provided as functional subsidies to end-consumers to empower them to choose the energy form most suitable and economical to them.
- Introduce a capacity market to encourage flexible capacity for peak demand and intermittency.
- Privatizing state distribution utilities and/or the use of a franchisee model will reduce AT&C losses.
- For agriculture, an upfront subsidy per acre of land through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) may be considered instead of providing separate subsidies for fertilizers, electricity, crop insurance etc.
- Promote the use of solar pumps for agriculture. Local discoms should buy surplus power from the farmer.
- Actively promote cross-border electricity trade to utilize existing/upcoming generation assets.
- To manage the demand for power, it is necessary to introduce 100 per cent metering, net metering, smart meters, and metering of electricity supplied to agriculture.
3: Oil and Gas:
- Provide for a common carrier and open access to gas pipelines.
- Expedite establishing the National Gas Grid.
- Promote city gas distribution to provide piped natural gas (PNG).
- Review and provide the required flexibility in contract terms to make stranded oil and gas assets functional.
- Enhance production from the existing fields of ONGC and OIL using cutting-edge technology through a framework of production enhancement contracts.
- Provide “priority sector” status for 2G bioethanol projects. The concept of ‘solar parks’ can be applied to bio-fuels; land can be leased by the government to oil marketing companies (OMCs) for energy crops.
- The government should provide viability gap funding/financial assistance for 2G ethanol project developers/technology partners.
- Declare regasified liquefied natural gas (R-LNG) as transportation fuel and promote PNG in rural areas.
- Expeditiously complete detailed exploration through exploration-cum-mining leases based on production/revenue sharing model.
- Put the onus on concerned state governments to make the land required for mining available.
5: Renewable energy:
- Provide a mechanism for cost-effective power grid balancing (gas-based, hydro or storage).
- Renewable purchase obligations (RPO) should be strictly enforced and inter-state sale of renewable energy should be facilitated.
- Decentralized renewable energy in rural areas in conjunction with the discoms’ grid can offer reliability.
- Hybrid renewable energy systems such as solar PV + biomass should be explored.
- Commercial biogas needs to be promoted by providing subsidy to consumers.
6: Energy efficiency:
- The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) should come out with a white paper on its 5-year strategy on energy efficiency in various sectors and specify energy consumption norms.
- States should adopt the second version of the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) in their building by-laws and ensure faster implementation.
- Promote the mandatory use of LED and the replacement of old appliances in government buildings with five-star appliances.
- Focus the UJALA (Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All) programme on lower-income households and small commercial establishments.
- Widen and deepen the perform, achieve and trade (PAT) programme; make Energy Saving Certificate (ESCert) trading under the PAT scheme effective by ensuring strict penalties against defaulters.
- Promote the use of the public transport system. Public transport systems may be converted to electric in a time bound manner. Expand the corporate average fuel efficiency standards (CAFE) beyond passenger cars to other vehicle segments.
Accelerating efforts towards a gas-based economy, cleaner use of fossil fuels, meeting renewable energy targets, increasing the use of electricity in mobility and moving towards emerging fuels such as hydrogen were key drivers of India’s energy future.
Contesting neighbours, revised geopolitical playbooks
Context: The engagement by India and China in the West Asia region is a good example of their metamorphosing approaches.
GS Paper 2: Important International institutions, agencies, for a (structure, mandate); Bilateral, Regional, Global groupings & Agreements (involving and/or affecting India)
Sub topic: west Asia
- The question of India’s Energy Security constitutes the most important part of India’s economic progress. Analyse India’s energy policy cooperation with West Asian Countries. 15 marks
- The theory of interests superseding ideology in foreign policy is fast unravelling practically, both from the perspectives of India and China. 15 marks
- Importance of West Asia for India.
- Challenges in west Asia
- Measures to address these challenges
- Way forward
Importance of West Asia for India:
- Energy security: 70 per cent of India’s imported energy needs come from West Asia.
- Geostrategic importance: To reduce the influence of china in west Asia and in Arabian Sea. China is continuously making in road to west Asia through OBOR initiative. West Asia is also gate way to land locked and energy rich central Asia.
- Security of Indian community: India is the largest recipient of foreign remittances from west Asia. About 11 million Indians work in West Asia. Therefore, stability in the region is high on India’s core agenda.
- To counter radicalization: close cooperation is essential with west Asian nations.
Challenges in West Asia:
- Political instability: The security situation in West Asia has been continuously deteriorating ever since the onset of the Arab Spring in December 2010. E.g. Syria, Yemen and Iraq crises.
- Involvement of global and regional powers: The involvement of extra-regional players such as the USA and Russia in the internal conflicts in West Asia has further aggravated the situation.
- Terrorism: Terrorism has emerged as the biggest security threat to the region. The rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is the most disturbing trend.
- Regional Conflicts: such as the Arab Israel conflict and the Saudi-Iran rivalry create destabilizing effect in West Asia. India has to balance its ties with all three-regional power in west Asia-Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
- US Sanctions on Iran: US withdrawal from Iran nuclear deal and has threatened to impose economic sanctions on Iran. This may weaken the dialogue mechanisms, embolden conservatives and may threaten the regional stability even more. India also has significant oil trade with Iran and stakes in connectivity through Chahbahar port and other projects.
- Pakistan factor: Pakistan is very close ally of many west Asian countries especially with GCC.
Measures to address these challenges:
- For Beijing and New Delhi, one region where both contesting neighbours have employed similar versions of ‘non-alignment’ thinking is in West Asia, and the ethos of equitable engagement with the three poles of power in Saudi Arabia, Iran and Israel. Therefore, both India and China can work together to bring cooperation between Iran and Saudi Arabia and can bring peace in this reason.
- As the powerful and oil-rich Gulf states looked for investment alternatives away from the West to deepen their own strategic depth with other countries. It will reduce the proxy war in West Asia, where both USA and Russia are fighting for their own interests.
India needs to continue the balancing act in West Asia that allows it to have good relations with Saudi Arabia, Iran and Israel alike, the three poles of power at loggerheads with each other in the region. At the same time, maintaining distance from regional fractures and conflicts would allow India to pursue its economic and geo-strategic aims in the region.
Why Chahbahar port is important for India?
1: Bypass Pakistan to reach Afghanistan: The development of a port in Iran can serve as an alternative route to Afghanistan.
- It will boost trade, including trade in perishables (e.g. fruits & vegetables) and dry fruits exported from Afghanistan to India, which otherwise face long custom clearance time at India-Pakistan borders.
- India can export the iron ore extracted from the Hajigak mines in Central Afghanistan through Chabahar port.
2: Reducing Pakistan’s Influence in Afghanistan: As it will reduce landlocked Afghanistan’s dependence on Karachi Port for maritime trade.
3: Access to Central Asia: Presence in Afghanistan helps expanding access to Central Asian Republics (CARs). E.g. Plan to extend the Zaranj-Delaram highway to connect with Uzbekistan
4: Regional Integration of Afghanistan: Increased regional cooperation will encourage all stakeholders to view Afghanistan as an avenue of cooperation rather than competition, which in turn could promote stability in Afghanistan.
Women at the heart of recovery
Context: Against the backdrop of recent economic reforms by the government, and significant stimulus packages, recovery measures are poised to lift millions from the unprecedented economic and health crisis and tackle widening inequalities.
GS Paper 2: Welfare Schemes (centre, states; performance, mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for protection of vulnerable sections); Government Policies & Interventions for development of various sectors (issues in their design, implementation)
- India has an opportunity to build climate resilience and address gender equality issues. Discuss the statement in contest of recent worldwide pandemic. 15 marks
- “Policy contradictions among various competing sectors and stakeholders have resulted in inadequate ‘protection and prevention of degradation’ to environment.” ” Comment with relevant illustration. 15 marks
- Pandemic and associated problems in India.
- Strategy to tackle these prevalent problems.
- Way forward
Pandemic and associated problems in India:
- Fragile health systems and frontline health workers are overburdened and lives and livelihoods impacted.
- The poor, Adivasis, migrants, informal workers, sexual minorities, people with disabilities and women all face a greater burnt than most.
- The causes and effects of climate change – stressed agriculture, food insecurity, unplanned urban growth, thinning forest covers, rising temperatures and shrinking water resources have also hit vulnerable groups disproportionately.
Strategy to tackle these prevalent problems:
The Indian government has invested nearly $22.5 billion in COVID19 recovery. Strengthening social protection using targeted and appropriate fiscal and policy measures is a good start.
- Environmental centric development: The government should focus more on climate centric development which will develop more green jobs, address poverty, and make our planet more healthier. These green investment ought to reflected across agriculture, urban planning, energy and health sectors and in climate resilient civil works, including under MGNERGA.
- Women led development: The government should focus on women, particularly those from indigenous and marginalised communities can play important role in various sector. Comprising more than 50% of the agricultural labour force, and nearly 14% of all entrepreneurs, women’s relationship with the environment and informal economy can be a useful lever of action to transform the lives and livelihood can be a useful lever of action to transform the lives and livelihoods of their families and communities.
Creating the right financial incentives, fostering sustainable public private partnerships and enabling women entrepreneurs to access markets, training and mentoring will be critical in scaling up these approaches. The Asian Development Bank projects that India’s GDP growth rate will rebound to 8% rebound in 2021-22. Putting women at the heart of this recovery will make it faster, just and inclusive.