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Monday, 15 May 2017 11:58

India Energy Dashboards

Effective policy formulation in the energy sector relies on rigorous analysis of readily available, accurate and reliable information. Availability of such information in the public domain will also help independent researchers contribute more effectively to policy analysis in India.

Despite a rich variety in energy data sources in India, it is often difficult to analyse issues in the energy sector without investing significant time, effort and money in data gathering and processing.

Within this context, Prayas (Energy Group) is developing a proof-of-concept energy data portal with support from NITI Aayog under the socioeconomic research grant scheme. The portal showcases a subset of official Indian energy statistics in one place and makes the statistics accessible to the general public by presenting them in a visually interesting,  easy-to-understand and interactive manner. This data can also be downloaded into machine readable formats such as csv.

The portal is hosted online through NITI Aayog's energy portal at http://indiaenergy.gov.in/edm/. The Energy Division within NITI Aayog will be maintaining and enhancing the portal going forward.

The full-day event "Reflections on contemporary issues in the electricity sector" consisted of three sessions, with each session focusing on one recent publication from Prayas. The event was well attended with each session having between 20 and 30 participants from across a wide spectrum consisting of regulators, senior bureaucrats, utility representatives, trade union representatives, civil society organisations, consultants, energy and environment researchers and think tanks.

In the first session, PEG presented its report Price of plenty analysing the "surplus" power situation in the country, its causes, implications and possible solutions. The report presentation was followed by remarks from Mr. Anish De (KPMG) as a discussant. This was followed by a robust discussion among participants sharing their perspectives on the topic.

In the second session, discussion revolved around the PEG report In the name of competition which analyses the saga of retail electricity competition in Mumbai. The analysis looks at the history of evolution of retail competition in Mumbai, the roles of various players involved and lessons for future reforms in this direction. Daljit Singh (independent researcher) and Geeta Gouri (former Member, Competition Commission of India) shared their views as discussants, following which participants shared and discussed their ideas on this issue.

The last session was based on a recent book published by PEG reviewing India's electricity sector reforms over the last 25 years. PEG made a presentation on the book titled Many sparks but little light which covers thermal, hydro and renewable generation, electricity distribution and associated fuel sectors of coal and gas. After PEG presented the motivation for the book and its major conclusions, Srinivasa Murthy (former Chair, Karnataka ERC) and Mahesh Rangarajan (Professor, Ashoka University) complimented PEG for publishing the book and shared their thoughts on it. Participants in the session also shared their views on the book as well as the future of the sector.

The event agenda and presentations made at the event can be accessed below.

The Ministry of Coal sought comments on the discussion paper on auction of coal mines for commercial mining vide notice 13011/1/2017-CBA2 dated March 27, 2017. The approach towards introducing commercial mining should be seen in the larger context of the coal and energy sector. PEG's comments and suggestions on the matter are provided in this spirit.

Wednesday, 05 April 2017 14:04

Captive Coal: Blocked?

Following the 2014 Supreme Court judgement cancelling allocations of 204 coal blocks, the Government of India had promulgated the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act in March 2015 and also allocated over 60 coal blocks for captive use in various sectors. The Government hoped to achieve a few important objectives through the allocation process, such as minimal disruption to production from captive blocks, rich revenue stream to states, reduction in electricity tariffs, and enhancement in transparency and competition.

Prayas (Energy Group) recently undertook a review of the status of captive coal blocks that were allocated with a view to assessing the achievements of the government’s stated objectives. The review findings are captured in a brief note and an article on Scroll.in. It concludes that most of the government’s objectives in allocating blocks have not been realized. This, together with the possibility of tempered demand for coal, calls for a different and more deliberative approach to the sector.

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.

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