Implications of a Net-zero Target for India’s Sectoral Energy Transitions and Climate Policy


    In News

    • Recently, a report – titled ‘Implications of a Net-zero Target for India’s Sectoral Energy Transitions and Climate Policy’ has been released.

    About the Report

    • The report is released by the independent think tank Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW).
    • Key Findings:
      • Solar power capacity: India’s total installed solar power capacity will need to increase to 5630 gigawatts (GW) by 2070 in order to achieve net-zero emissions.
      • Land requirement: Consequently, the total corresponding land requirement for India’s power generation assets, especially solar, would be approximately 4.6 per cent.
      • Recycling: India would also need to develop the requisite recycling capacities to handle the solar PV waste generated. At present, India has 100 GW of installed renewable energy capacity, of which solar comprises 40 GW, and it aims to enhance the RE capacity to 450 GW by 2030.
      • Fuel: 
        • Coal usage: In order to achieve net-zero by 2070, usage of coal, especially for power generation, would need to peak by 2040 and drop by 99 per cent between 2040 and 2060. 
        • Crude oil consumption: Further, consumption of crude oil, across sectors, would need to peak by 2050 and fall substantially by 90 per cent between 2050 and 2070. 
        • Green hydrogen: Green hydrogen could contribute 19 per cent of the total energy needs of the industrial sector. These insights assume that hydrogen will play an integral part in this transition, while Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology would play a negligible role.
      • Economic Cost: If India were to attain net-zero emissions by 2070, then the economic cost of the transition could be around 4.1% of the GDP in the net-zero year. But, if India were to prepone the timeline to 2050, the economic cost would be much higher, around 7% in that particular year.
      • Usage: 
        • Electric or battery-driven passenger vehicles would comprise 84 per cent of all cars sold in the country. 
        • Further, 79 per cent of all trucks would run on battery-electric technology and rest on hydrogen. 
        • Households across the country would also have to use electricity as the primary cooking fuel. 
      • Wind and nuclear energy share:
        • The share of wind and nuclear energy in India’s electricity generation mix would have to increase to 1792 GW and 225 GW

    Image Courtesy: TOI 

    India and Net Zero Target  

    • Emission: 
      • India, as the country with the third-largest emissions, is under pressure to come up with a higher ambition of cutting CO2 emissions. 
      • India is working to reduce its emissions, aligned with the goal of less than 2°C global temperature rise. 
    • Aim to Reduce intensity: 
      • India has committed to reducing the emission intensity of its gross domestic product by 33-35% by 2030 and having 175-gigawatt renewable energy capacity by 2030 under the Paris Agreement of 2016. 
      • There is renewed pressure on India to enhance its renewable commitment under the Paris deal with 450 GW by 2030 and phase out coal.
      • But it has not favoured a binding commitment towards carbon neutrality.
    • Current scenario: 
      • Even though India is yet to commit to a net-zero target, it is the only G20 country to meet its emission reduction commitments made in the Paris Agreement. 
      • It is also a leading partner in the International Solar Alliance and has recently announced the National Hydrogen Mission to push the innovation, production, storage, and usage of green hydrogen.
      • The recent IPCC report released earlier this year has also underscored the importance of achieving net-zero globally to limit the total rise in temperatures to 1.5-2 degrees in the coming decades.


    • Peak and net zero-gap: For vast and diverse developing countries like India, at least a thirty-year gap between peaking and the net-zero year would be critical. This will ensure a smooth transition by giving policymakers and other stakeholders sufficient time to plan and adapt to a new energy system. 
    • Energy Prices: As moving towards a net-zero future, energy prices could rise in the short run and workers that are a part of the fossil-fuel economy could lose jobs.
    • Reliance on coal: India is heavily reliant on coal. According to the International Energy Agency’s India Energy Outlook 2021, coal accounts for close to 70% of electricity generation.

    Way Ahead

    • Developed countries should offer generous financial and technological support to the developing ones to help them set ambitious goals regarding emissions reduction while ensuring a just transition
    • Developed economies should significantly advance their target of achieving net-zero and not wait till 2050. This will give developing countries room to pursue a just and sustainable energy transition. 
    • Going forward, India should also co-invest and co-develop new green technologies in partnership with other countries to create new jobs and markets. Green hydrogen is one such technology that could replace coal in the industrial sector. 
    • India should invest in research and development, and become an export hub for green hydrogen and electrolysers in the coming years. 

    Critical Milestones

    • Following are the 12 critical milestones for the 2040 peaking–2070 net-zero scenario with no commercial availability of CCS but hydrogen being commercially available:
    • Power sector
      • Coal-based power generation must peak by 2040 and reduce by 99 per cent between 2040 and 2060
      • Solar-based electricity generation capacity must increase to 1689 GW by 2050 and 5,630 GW by 2070
      • Wind-based electricity generation capacity much increase to 557 GW by 2050 and 1792 GW by 2070
      • Nuclear-based electricity generation capacity must increase to 68 GW by 2050 and 225 GW by 2070
    • Transport sector
      • The share of electric cars in car sales must reach 84 per cent by 2070
      • The share of electric trucks in freight trucks must total 79 per cent by 2070, the rest being fuelled by hydrogen
      • The share of biofuel blend in oil for cars, trucks, and airlines must touch 84 per cent by 2070
    • Industrial sector
      • Coal use in the industrial sector must peak by 2040 and reduce by 97 per cent between 2040 and 2065
      • Hydrogen share in total industrial energy use (heat and feedstock) must increase to 15 per cent by 2050 and 19 per cent by 2070
      • The industrial energy intensity of total GDP must decline by 54 per cent between 2015 and 2050 and by a further 32 per cent between 2050 and 2070
    • Building sector
      • The intensity of electricity use in the building sector with respect to total GDP must decline by 45 per cent between 2015 and 2050 and by another 2.5 per cent between 2050 and 2070
    • Refinery sector
      • Crude oil consumption in the economy must peak by 2050 and decrease by 90 per cent between 2050 and 2070.

    Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW)

    • It is an India-based, independent and globally engaged policy research organisation.
    • It is one of Asia’s leading not-for-profit policy research institutions.
    • Founded: In 2010
    • Working: CEEW uses data, integrated analysis, and strategic outreach to explain – and change – the use, reuse, and misuse of resources.
    • Funding: Sources such as donations and grants from private and philanthropic foundations, multilateral organisations, corporations, and public institutions. 

    Source: IE