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Path to developed and decarbonized India

The choices India makes today will profoundly influence some of the world’s most pressing challenges like climate change. The good news is that these choices are yet to be made.

Path to Developed and Decarbonized India

An original approach on the Energy Transition

Climate change concerns are at an all-time high. In 2022, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its 6th Assessment Report, following a previous one in 2014. At the launch of the first part of this report in summer 2021, the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres called it a “Code Red for Humanity”. Science has now made clear that preventing global warming above 1.5 degrees will be essential to mitigate major adverse effects to our way of life. But, to remain within such boundaries requires a complete change of paradigm: greenhouse gas emissions should decline 30-50% by 2030 and be zeroed by mid-century. Progress has remained slow, however. At global level, the carbon intensity of energy use has notably stagnated across most sectors of activity in the last 20 years (except in the power generation sector where it dropped by around 15%). An energy transition of momentous proportions is therefore ahead of us.

But not all geographies will face such challenge in the same way. A fast-developing economy like India will have, for instance, to combine both a rapid economic development, in great need of secured and affordable energy, with a necessary transition away from fossil fuels. The way this will be addressed will to a large extent define the future of the Indian energy system. Moreover, India is on the path to become one of the dominant economies of the 21st century in the coming decades. Its potential for development is mind-blowing. What this means is that the way the Indian energy system will develop will not only impact India, but also affect the entire world. In other words, given the size of the Indian economy, every choice the country makes today will deeply influence the way some of the world’s most pressing challenges are resolved tomorrow, prime of which that of climate change.

The positive side of this argument, however, is that these choices are yet to be made. There is a “window of opportunity”. The purpose of this report is to positively contribute to this discussion. It departs from other and similar analyses in two ways.

First, this report adopts a long view: it explores the evolution of the energy system from 2000 all the way to 2070. Second, this report focuses on energy services (or energy demand). An energy system is indeed more than a system of energy stocks and flows, as often depicted, but rather the complex stratification of a variety of energy services (or uses, or practices) which affect a multitude of socio-technical systems and depend on a variety of environmental, economical, technological, institutional and cultural patterns. These services are not necessarily directly related to energy. They are the product of what we do with energy: the machines and appliances we run, the boilers or furnaces we use for heating, the vehicles we drive, etc. Some of these energy services, while existing today, may be considerably improved (and transformed) by modern technologies. They will also continue to evolve as technology develops. Other energy services may not exist today but could emerge as the result of evolutions in the technological (and economical, institutional, and cultural) landscape. The bottom line of this is that fostering a transition away from the current energy system toward a new one requires a greater focus on such services, both in terms of the impact of their inevitable development, but also in terms of the extent to which they could contribute to reaching a secured, affordable, and net-zero energy system.

In this report, we explore 12 of those in detail and model the impact of their development within the future energy system of India.

Schneider Electric
Vincent Petit, SVP Climate and Energy Transition Research, head of the Schneider ElectricTM Sustainability Research Institute
Vincent Minier, VP Energy Transition Research, Schneider ElectricTM Sustainability Research Institute
Rohit Chashta, Deputy General Manager, Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Strategy, Schneider Electric India Operations
Venkat Garimella, VP Strategy and Sustainability, Schneider Electric India Operations

Quentin Bchini, Project Manager, Global Energy Forecasting, Enerdata
Magali Mellon, Project Specialist, Global Energy Forecasting, Enerdata

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