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The Ministry of Coal published Draft Rules to replace the Auction by Competitive Bidding of Coal Mines Rules, 2012 and invited comments and suggestions on the same. Prayas reviewed the Draft Rules and submitted its comments and suggestions to the Ministry. The important comments related to

a) Need for much greater clarity and checks-and-balances related to commercial sale of coal
b) Need for much more transparency in the entire process of block allocations
c) Tighter and better eligibility and evaluation criteria for both auctions and allotments and
d) The role of current national coal companies such as CIL and SCCL in the new regime

The year 1991 was an inflection point in the history of modern India. The country embarked upon wide-ranging economic reforms in what came to be known as the Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation or LPG era. The electricity sector — indeed, the entire energy sector — has seen multiple waves of reforms since then. It has been a quarter century since the beginning of the reforms and there are indications that a fresh wave of reforms are in the offing in the electricity sector. Over this period, Prayas (Energy Group) has keenly followed and participated in the reforms process as a proactive, independent organisation offering constructive critique and suggestions to further public interest.

Prayas (Energy Group) has authored a book born out of this unique engagement and understanding of the sector. The book critically examines many of these reforms and the impacts they have had, to understand if they achieved their expected objectives and if they helped in achieving the desirable socio-environmental outcomes. The in-depth analysis over eight chapters covers thermal, hydropower and renewable generation, electricity distribution, and associated fuel sectors of coal and natural gas. We hope that the book contributes to improve the design and implementation of further reforms, so that the sector overcomes its challenges in an equitable and sustainable manner.

The book is dedicated to Girish Sant, founder coordinator of Prayas (Energy Group), who continues to inspire our work.

The first attachment below is a preview of the book and contains a detailed table of contents, including list of figures, tables, and boxes. It also includes the foreword by Dr. E A S Sarma, former Secretary, Government of India, and the preface by the authors. The second attachment gives a bird’s eye overview of the major changes in the electricity and related sectors in the past two and half decades of reforms. Please write to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for a copy of the book.

Friday, 15 April 2016 16:41

Clearing the smoke

One of the less discussed but potentially far-reaching features of this year’s Budget was the launch of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY).The PMUY is a bold and much-needed initiative, but it should be recognised that this is just a first step. Many efforts are needed to widen the net of recipients, increase subsidy receipts to encourage use and extending the distribution networks. Such efforts, if it leads to sustained LPG use can impact India's disease burden. It will result in truly smokeless kitchens only if the government follows up with measures that go beyond connections to actual usage of LPG. This may require concerted efforts cutting across Ministries beyond petroleum and natural gas and including those of health, rural development and women and child welfare.

An opinion piece was published in The Hindu on 12th April 2016 about this. An extended article was published in the EPW issue of 16th April 2016

Planning for India’s energy future requires addressing multiple and simultaneous economic, social and environmental challenges. While there has been conceptual progress towards harnessing their synergies, there are limited methodologies available for operationalizing a multiple objective framework for development and climate policy. We propose a ‘multi-criteria decision analysis’ (MCDA) approach to this problem, using illustrative examples from the cooking and buildings sectors. An MCDA approach enables policy processes that are analytically rigorous, participative and transparent, which are required to address India’s complex energy and climate challenges.

This work was done in collaboration with Center for Policy Research (CPR) and the Energy Research Center (ERC) at University of Cape Town.

This approach was presented at the TISS Climate Conference 2015 held at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, followed by policy brief published by CPR in August 2015. A paper based on this work was published in the December 5 2015 issue of Economic and Political Weekly.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015 17:17

Data Gaps in India's Energy Sector

Energy data is a critical enabler for policy makers and the research community in formulating and analyzing energy policies. National energy data systems need to be robust and efficient in delivering such energy data useful for research and policy formulation.

In a previous report by Prayas on India's Energy Data Management (EDM) systems, it was pointed out that data is largely collected for administrative purposes, that there is weak mandate and capacity to disseminate quality data, and hence many gaps exist.

In this report we undertake a deeper investigation of public dissemination of energy sector data in India, compare this with what should ideally be available and contrast with international best practices. We look at data gaps on the supply side and important sub-sectors on the demand side.

The intended audiences of this report are data agencies within various ministries under Government of India (GoI) that deal with energy data in the country. We suggest several improvements that can be undertaken by the agencies to address the identified gaps in a phased manner.

Following the Supreme Court judgement of 2014 cancelling the allocation of more than 200 captive coal blocks, the government quickly brought in legislation and began the process of their reallocation. While the new allocation framework is an improvement over the previous regime, it suffers from many potentially serious shortcomings. These include legal ambiguities regarding the method of allocation of mines; regulatory and legal challenges in achieving the expected goals of enhancing coal production and reducing electricity tariffs; and governance challenges in enforcing contracts and monitoring production. In addition, there is significant room for improvement in the provision for competition in auctions, the criteria for allotment, and the transparency of the entire allocation process. These issues need to be dealt with effectively to prevent the sector from heading towards legal, regulatory and economic chaos.

Monday, 09 November 2015 16:31

Inputs to National Energy Policy 2015

NITI Aayog has been entrusted with formulating the National Energy Policy (NEP) by the Government of India. NITI Aayog approached many knowledge partners, including PEG, to conduct stakeholder consultations and provide inputs to the NEP on specific sectors. PEG was requested to provide inputs on coal production and thermal generation. In this connection, PEG prepared a background paper and conducted stakeholder consultations at the Mahagenco office in Mumbai on 19th October 2015 which was attended by about 30 representatives from the coal and power sectors. Based on the discussions at the roundtable, PEG submitted its inputs to the NITI Aayog.

In addition, PEG also provided inputs on energy data management to the Centre for Policy Research. These inputs were used in the note prepared by the Centre for Policy Research on the institutional framework and energy data spine for the country as part of its inputs to NEP 2015.

How much energy we need for ensuring a decent standard of living for everyone is one of the basic questions at the heart of energy planning, yet it is one that is rarely addressed in any particularly meaningful manner. Many projections estimate energy demands based on energy requirement for GDP growth. Yet, GDP growth does not necessarily result in provision of basic needs of everyone. Some energy demand projections have therefore tried to estimate energy needed for specific developmental goals, or for indices that work as proxies for such developmental objectives. A set of such developmental goals can form the normative framework that defines a decent standard of living.

This paper reviews various methods of energy demand estimations, looking particularly at some bottom up, disaggregated approaches, and discusses their implications. Apart from providing better estimates of the quantity of energy needed, the power of such approaches lies in making a direct link between energy and its end-use and end-user, thus promoting equity, and providing a framework of better monitoring of how energy is used.  The paper explores these aspects and also discusses implications of energy demand estimates for sustainability.

Given the close relationship of the energy sector to human development and the environment, it is important to objectively and comprehensively assess a country's energy sector periodically. To assist in this, we developed a 'dashboard' for the energy sector that is comprehensive and multi-dimensional, and can be easily computed. The dashboard was also applied to the Indian energy sector over the last 10 years and reveals some interesting insights. It shows an alarming trend regarding energy's impact on the environment and also shows that India's energy supply indicators are worsening. A version of this was published in the March 14, 2015 issue of the Economic and Political Weekly.

An article -'Understanding the energy elephant', based on this paper was published in the Mint edition of 25th July 2015.

Understanding the energy elephant

India's energy demand will increase significantly in future as it provides its citizens access to modern energy, and energy will be a key driver for “Make in India”, one of the flagship programs of the current Government. The minister for coal, power and renewables has recently announced ambitious targets of domestic coal, electricity and renewables generation. To achieve these goals and understand the implications of meeting the energy demand, India must know its 'strengths' by really understanding the geographic distribution and potential of various domestic energy sources and 'weaknesses' in the form of the constraints involved in exploiting them. This can be done by instituting a National Energy Resource Mapping Mission (NERMM). An article proposing such an NERMM appeared in the Indian Express dated 31st Jan 2015.

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