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It is estimated that more than half of the Indian households use solid fuels for cooking even in 2018. This is not only an important energy access problem but also one with very adverse health impacts.  Household air pollution arising from burning solid fuels for cooking is one of the leading contributors to mortality and disease burden in India. At the same time, India is committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals which includes providing clean, modern fuels to all by 2030. The government has launched the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana to distribute subsidised LPG connections to poor households.

In this context, we model and analyse four possible transition scenarios to modern cooking fuels and technologies, which shows that transition to modern fuel-technologies is a very cost-effective health intervention. The most aggressive transition involving a mix of modern fuels not only reduces the disease burden associated with cooking by more than half, but is also the most cost-effective. But if households do not shift to modern fuels completely, the analysis shows that stacking of solid fuels with modern fuels significantly erodes the health benefit of modern fuels.  In order to help complete modern fuel adoption, consumer fuel pricing and targeted subsidies for poor households are necessary as fuel costs dominate the financial costs of the transition. The analysis also considers improved biomass cookstoves and concludes that the adverse health impacts from using even the best-in-class improved cookstoves are non-trivial. However, given their greater efficiency and lower emissions in comparison to traditional stoves, they can potentially be an intermediate technology in the shift to modern fuels.

The cooking fuel access problem is a multi-dimensional problem. Therefore, if India wants to rapidly fuel the transition to modern fuels, the solution should also be multi-dimensional and involve multiple fuels, stakeholders and strategies.

The central government’s flagship programme to provide free liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) connections to poor women has been in operation for two years, providing more than 3.5 crore LPG connections . This much-needed scheme is a major step to reduce indoor air pollution, drudgery faced by women, and one that promises to extend LPG access with significant potential health benefits. The programme has largely succeeded in disbursing LPG connections to poor households, but little is known about the progress of the scheme with respect to LPG use. Has it led to sustained use of clean fuels among poor households? While this article attempts to answer that question, there is need for more information about the scheme in the public domain for a comprehensive evaluation and mid-course correction to help achieve all its social objectives.

A version of this article was published in the Economic and Political Weekly on 19th May 2018.

Coal India Ltd had uploaded the key highlights and summary of a draft Coal Vision 2030 document and sought stakeholder comments. PEG's submission in this regard is available below. Comments are broken into two categories - overarching comments about the process of drafting the coal vision document, seeking feedback and cross-cutting issues; and specific comments about points made in the draft vision document. The submission was shared with officials of Coal India Ltd. and the Ministry of Coal.

On 6th October 2017, the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) vide its order in case no 135 of 2017 allowed the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (MSEDCL) to procure around 1000 MW of short-term power at higher cost than the ceiling rate of Rs. 4 per unit that the commission had set for such procurement about a year ago. The reason for this was that MSEDCL claimed that around 6600 MW of its contracted capacity was unavailable due to coal shortage. As a result of this, MSEDCL was also forced to undertake distress load shedding in the state. Out of MSEDCL’s total contracted capacity of 33,496 MW, more than one-third belongs to Maharashtra State Power Generation Company Ltd (MSPGCL) and more than 60% of MSPGCL’s coal based capacity was unavailable during this period. It is important to note that the claims regarding coal shortage made by MSPGCL are contrary to the public statements made by the Ministry of Coal regarding coal availability and the data published by Coal India Ltd (CIL) regarding coal production and supply. Hence, it becomes important to evaluate whether the coal shortage claimed by MSPGCL and some other generators in the state could have been avoided by better planning.

Therefore, in order to bring in more clarity regarding coal procurement and generation planning processes, Prayas (Energy Group) has filed a petition before the MERC seeking a thorough analysis and examination of the reasons leading to sudden fall in availability of MSEDCL’s contracted capacity during September 2017. Prayas has demanded that the MERC should undertake such analysis based on data such as actual indents issued by MSPGCL to the concerned coal companies for coal requisition, coal supplied by CIL against such indents, and the details regarding how MSPGCL is utilising the coal supply contracted for its capacity (4522 MW) that is under planned economic and/or reserve shut down.

Prayas has submitted that the crisis like situation that emerged in September 2017 should be used as an opportunity to thoroughly evlauate generation planning and coal procurement processes in the state. Based on this analysis and to avoid such issues in future, the Commission should consider issuing specific process directions to the concerned companies. The petition is yet to be listed for hearing before the Commission.

Readily available and reliable energy data is fundamental to effective analysis and policymaking for the energy sector. Energy statistics of high quality, systematically compiled and effectively disseminated, not only support governments to ensure national security and evaluate energy policies, but they also guide investment decisions in both the private and public sectors.

In this study, energy data management in four countries – Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States – are examined from both organizational and operational perspectives. With insights from these best practices, we present a framework for the evaluation of national energy data management systems. It can be used by national statistics compilers to assess their chosen model and to identify areas for improvement. We then use India as a test case for this framework to assess how India may adapt and evolve its energy data management systems.

This study was published in the August 2017 issue of the journal 'Energy Policy' (link to the paper). The manuscript submitted to 'Energy Policy' is attached below.

NITI Aayog published a Draft National Energy Policy in June 2017 and invited comments. Following are the comments submitted by PEG for the same.

The Government of India announced a new policy called SHAKTI to allocate coal to power sector consumers in May 2017. This article analysing SHAKTI and its impact on the power and coal sectors was published in Business Standard of 25th June 2017. It concludes that, while the policy announcement will bring in short-term relief, it is unlikely to contribute to the long-term goals of the sector which requires efficient thermal generation, competitive markets and flexible contracts. Instead, it could fragment coal and power generation along public and private sector lines, with consumers having to bear the costs of the resultant inefficiencies.

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.

In this context, Prayas (Energy Group) has developed 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.

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