Guest essay by By Paul Homewood
BERLIN: India said on Thursday that it would increase the share of clean energy in its total energy mix by as much as 40%, by the target year of 2030.
While submitting its 38-page ‘climate action plan’ to a UN body in Bonn, Germany, India added that it would fight climate change by taking the energy efficiency route and by substantially reducing its ’emission intensity’, which is measured by the amount of carbon emissions per unit of GDP.
“India’s goal is to reduce overall emission intensity and improve energy efficiency of its economy over time and at the same time protecting the vulnerable sectors of economy and segments of our society.”
The ‘Climate Action Plan’ of individual countries is called the ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contribution’ (INDC), in climate-change negotiation parlance. India met the ‘informal’ deadline of October 1, for submission of its INDC.
What does this all mean, when we take away the smoke and the mirrors. The following points stand out:
- No actual CO2 target has been set.
- Although the talk is of “increase the share of clean energy in its total energy mix by as much as 40%”, when you get down to the small print, as we will shortly, the commitment is only to 40% of capacity, and not generation. As we know, renewables give very poor utilisation, so the amount generated will be much, much less than 40%.
- Also, this 40% is not of its total energy mix, as reported, but only of electricity mix.
- Commitment is given about reducing carbon intensity of GDP, but nearly half of this has already been achieved since 2005. As we have seen with China, maturing economies tend to grow away from energy intensive industries.
I have analysed below the actual plan, which is linked in the Times article under India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution.
First, the government outlines the economic and social background:
And now for the nitty gritty! Electricity demand will more than triple by 2030, if all these needs are to be met.
Emissions Intensity v GDP
Plan commits India to a reduction in the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33% by 2030, but this is from 2005 levels.
The Plan tells us that energy intensity of GDP has already fallen by about 17% since 2005. It does not specifically mention emissions, as opposed to energy, but as wind/solar power are still only producing less than 2% of India’s total energy, according to BP, it is reasonable to assume that emissions intensity has fallen by a similar amount.
This therefore means that the commitment entails a further reduction from now of about 19%. (We have to assume some interchangeability between 2012 and 2014 numbers)
We can therefore do some sums!
|GDP at 2011 prices
|CO2 million tonnes
|CO2 million tonnes
|CO2 million tonnes
with 19% reduction
Put simply, if the Indian economy grows as planned, we can expect CO2 emissions to be three times as high in 2030 than they are now. Global emissions are currently 35498 million tonnes.
What about the commitment to increase renewable capacity?
Pages 9 and 10 give some clues as to how this will be achieved, basically:
- Increasing wind capacity to 100 GW, currently at 23 GW.
- Solar increasing from 3 GW to 100 GW
- Nuclear from 4 GW to 63 GW.
- Talk of increasing the efficiency of hydro and biomass, but little likelihood of a significant extra contribution.
Again, let us do the sums:
Based on current capacity utilisations, this capacity configuration would yield this sort of generation:
NB – There is a disconnect between the above current generation numbers, which derive from BP but are also supported by the EIA, and the Indian government figure of 776 TWh given in their Plan for “demand”. This may be related to transmission losses and other distribution problems. If, of course, their lower figure is correct, my generation assumption for 2030 would be underestimated, and consequently the fossil fuel balancing figure would need to be higher.
On these numbers, although renewables share of total generation would increase from 14% to 17%, the “others” figure, ie fossil fuels, would increase by 62%, simply to meet the extra demand.
It is also worth noting that the planned expansion in nuclear will contribute more extra generation than renewables do.
There is, of course, a bill attached to all of this!
Or $166 billion a year!
I expect this Plan will be lauded by the BBC and the like, but the reality is that India desperately need to increase both its electrical capacity and total energy consumption by large amounts in coming years if its economy is to grow and help reduce poverty levels, not to mention a rapidly expanding population.
Most of this extra power cannot be supplied by inefficient and unreliable renewables, though they do have a role to play in remote rural areas.
Even with mammoth climate aid payments from the West, India’s CO2 emissions will likely treble by 2030. Moreover, there is absolutely no commitment, or for that matter likelihood, that there will be any drop in those emissions after 2030.
BP Energy Review
International Energy Statistics from the EIA