Clean and affordable cooking is both a crucial public health and energy equity issue. Given the policy and investment push, Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) has been and will continue to be a major part of the solution in India. The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) has ensured near 100% connection penetration of LPG in the country today. PMUY continues to be one of the major social protection schemes, as was seen even during the COVID-19 crisis, where three free cylinders to PMUY beneficiaries were provided. Recently in the budget speech, the Finance minister announced that PMUY would be expanded to a further 1 Crore people. All of these suggest that PMUY, and indeed LPG, is here to stay and would be one of the prominent public instruments to ensure rural transition to clean cooking fuels; while an urban transition to piped natural gas and electric induction cooking is currently underway in parallel.
Prayas (Energy Group) and Centre for Policy Research organised the second roundtable on “Managing a fair transition away from coal in India’, on 20th & 21st January, 2021. This event followed the first iteration of the roundtable, held in December 2019, which served as a conversation starter on the transition away from coal that is already underway in the country. The transition discourse has since further evolved, with key analyses from several research groups and important policy notifications from central and state governments.
The second roundtable was convened with the agenda of discussing the emerging analyses and possible avenues of managing the transition in a timely and just manner. The two-day online event was split into moderated sessions to facilitate focused discussions and were based on the following broad themes:
Prayas (Energy Group) (PEG) organised the third edition of the two-day experience sharing workshop on 24th and 25th of September, 2020. Owing to the global Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown enforced thereafter, the event was held virtually this year, on the Zoom meeting platform. The event was attended by around 59 participants working in the electricity sector, representing twelve states. This included participation from various stakeholders such as NGOs, grass-root organisations, policy think tanks, and consumer activists.
As has been the practice over the previous workshops, conducted in 2017 and 2018, the event this year was also envisaged as a platform to discuss commonalities and differences, and share experiences, challenges, and strategies used in various states to engage with the power sector. It was understood from the experience over the past workshops that participants preferred more focused discussions on crucial topics, experienced across states. Given this and the constraints of a virtual event, the current year’s workshop hosted in-depth discussions on the following topics.
Residential electricity consumption in India is changing due to rapid electrification, improved supply, increasing urbanisation and growing incomes. However, there is a lack of data and understanding of how people use electricity. As India embraces the smart meter technology, there is an opportunity to bridge the information gap and use this smart meter data to understand the nature of residential electricity demand.
In this context, Prayas (Energy Group), Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), and CLASP organized a roundtable to bring together researchers and practitioners to deliberate on the opportunities that smart meters present for a better understanding of electricity demand and management strategies in the residential sector. PEG, CEEW, and CLASP have been collecting electricity consumption data, using smart meters, from a sample of households spread across different parts of India, under different initiatives. Insights from the data collected were presented at the roundtable to add context to the deliberations.
India’s energy sector is under transition, owing to falling renewable energy prices, increasing prices of coal-based electricity, and increasing environmental pressures. Early signs of this transition are evident from the emerging trends in electricity generation capacity addition, and indicate a shift away from coal. However, this does not imply that India will stop depending on coal any time soon, but its share in the overall energy basket is expected to reduce. Given the critical importance of coal not only to the energy system, but also to various other aspects such as livelihoods and political economy in some parts of the country and to some sectors of the economy, the slow but inevitable transition away from coal will have many ramifications. It is important that this transition be understood well so that it can be fair and well managed, and its negative implications are minimised. Moreover, given the various linkages of the coal sector with other sectors, the transition is likely to be complex. Therefore, it would be prudent to begin exploring and understanding the various dimensions of this transition away from coal early on.