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India's clean tech can achieve energy independence by 2047: study

By the year 2047, India can achieve its dream of energy independence. According to a new study named "Pathways to Atmanirbhar Bharat

By Ground Report
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By the year 2047, India can achieve its dream of energy independence. According to a new study named "Pathways to Atmanirbhar Bharat" released by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), India can achieve cost-effective energy independence through rapid development in the fields of cheap clean energy technologies, renewables, and lithium.

Examining India's three most energy-intensive sectors - electricity, transportation, and industry - the study found that achieving energy independence will result in significant economic, environmental, and energy benefits.

These benefits include consumer savings of up to $2.5 trillion by 2047, reducing fossil fuel imports and expenditures by 90% or $240 billion per year by 2047, enhancing India's industrial competitiveness globally, and achieving India's net-zero commitment ahead of schedule.

India is the third largest energy consumer in the world, and its energy demand is expected to triple in the coming decades due to rapid economic development. Currently, India imports 90% of its oil consumption, 80% of its industrial coal, and 40% of its natural gas to meet its needs.

In this scenario, the volatility of prices and supply in the global energy markets puts pressure on India's foreign currency reserves, resulting in a negative impact on the economy due to increased currency depreciation.

Nikit Abhyankar, a scientist at the Berkeley Lab and lead author of the study, says, "There has never been a better time for clean energy in India. India has achieved some of the world's lowest prices for renewable energy and has some of the world's largest lithium reserves. This can directly lead India towards cost-effective energy independence, which is beneficial both economically and environmentally."

According to studies, India aims to establish a non-fossil fuel-based energy capacity of more than 500 GW by 2030 in its path towards energy independence. The government has already announced this goal.

After this, the goal is to have an 80% clean grid by 2040, and a 90% clean grid by 2047. By 2035, almost 100% of new vehicles sold may be electric. Heavy industry can also be largely dependent on green hydrogen and electrification by 2047.

By then, 90% of steel, 90% of cement, and 100% of fertilizers will be produced from this change. To build new electric vehicles and grid-scale battery storage systems, most of the estimated 2 million tons (by 2040) of lithium needed can be produced at the domestic level using newly discovered reserves.

In addition, the Indian industry is expected to move towards clean technologies such as EV and green steel manufacturing. India is one of the largest auto and steel exporters in the world, committed to carbon neutrality and potential carbon border adjustment fees in European Union countries.

Co-author of the report, Amol Fadke says, "India needs an investment of $3 trillion in the coming decades for its energy infrastructure. Our studies show that cost-effective and clean new energy is essential to prioritize for long-term financial stability. India can benefit from its established policy framework to expand clean energy initiatives."

The study finds that India has a unique advantage for leapfrogging towards a clean energy future as a significant portion of its energy infrastructure is yet to be built.

India's growing energy demand provides a critical runway of 15 years to convert existing fossil fuel assets into clean energy. This transition will be crucial in collaborating with the most affected communities, ensuring a fair transition for the country's workforce.

Important policy support will be needed for this energy transition, including mandates for clean technologies, financial and policy support for emerging green technologies like green hydrogen, and investment in domestic manufacturing capacity.

Priyanka Mohanty, co-author and researcher at Berkeley Lab, said, "Our study findings suggest that India will embark on an ambitious energy transition in the coming decades. The good news is that a longer transition track provides a strategic opportunity to deploy clean technologies and formulate a sound transition plan."

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