*This was written by ExxonMobil India Lead Country Manager Monte Dobson.
The energy and resources required to build this future needs long-term planning, especially as India transitions away from traditional power sources such as coal, to cleaner sources like renewables and natural gas.
India’s energy demand is growing rapidly to power large-scale industrialization and urbanization.
But for a country that imports a lot of energy, India needs more domestic energy sources to sustain its growth momentum.
Energy independence by 2047: A well-founded mission
Uninterrupted growth for India hinges on, amongst other things, long-term energy security and supply stability.
Currently, India imports almost 85% of its crude and its crude-import bill nearly doubled to USD 119 billion in FY 2021-22. So India’s mission to achieve “energy independence by 2047” is well-founded and critical for stable long-term growth.
As part of this long-term view, ExxonMobil is working to support India’s aspiration to become energy independent.
We’re collaborating with Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) to evaluate India’s offshore hydrocarbon potential. It’s a great team since ONGC brings a deep knowledge of India’s regional geology, while we bring some cutting-edge technologies uniquely suited to assess India’s deep waters for hydrocarbon presence.
And while we’re still in the early stages, we are happy to be there evaluating and ascertaining whether we can change our footprint to be an offshore producer in India, thereby helping to create a secure energy resource.
A potential big investment in hydrocarbon exploration would also have cascading effects on other investments in the oil and gas and downstream sectors. It has strong potential to create thousands of skilled jobs in the country, maximizing the benefits for Indians.
But while finding domestic energy sources can help solve one of India’s foremost energy challenges, the country needs to simultaneously embark upon other paths to enable a successful energy transition.
Building lower-carbon pathways with new technologies
Nearly 80% of India’s energy needs continue to be met by coal, oil and biomass. That’s why despite lower per capita CO2 emissions than the global average, India is the world’s third-largest CO2 emitter.
So the country needs to balance its expanding energy demand—both from traditional and newer sources—with its emissions-reduction targets.
The good news is that change is on the anvil, and the early signs are encouraging.
India’s installed capacity for renewables is accelerating, and for the first time in years, natural gas consumption has risen despite the pandemic disruption. This reflects the leading role renewables and gas will play in powering India’s growth.
Additionally, given hydrogen’s potential for hard-to-decarbonize sectors, India’s recent introduction of a green hydrogen policy is a step in the right direction.
Plans to utilize compressed biogas, made by converting green waste to energy, as a transportation fuel can also add to India’s cleaner-fuel choices.
Yet another success story waiting to happen could be India’s burgeoning EV sector. Surging demand for electric two-wheelers indicates an acceleration of EV adoption amongst the country’s expanding middle class.
All these exciting developments make India’s energy-transition journey look promising … yet there’s more work to be done.
An ambitious energy-transition plan for India should also include early adoption of upcoming technologies with significant potential to reduce emissions, such as carbon capture and storage (CCS).
For this to happen, an explicit price on carbon is essential. Carbon pricing can help accelerate the uptake of key technologies like CCS, by creating market incentives to capture emissions.
Currently, India doesn’t have a uniform carbon price, though the Perform, Achieve and Trade (PAT) scheme, Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPO) and Renewable Energy Certificates (REC) impose an implicit price on carbon.
An economy-wide carbon price would enable all technologies to compete and cost-effectively lower carbon intensity while delivering meaningful emission reductions.
But in the absence of economy-wide carbon-pricing systems, well-designed, sector-based policy options to drive innovation and investment could also be an effective way to reduce emissions.
It’s great to see India’s options growing with the emergence of newer lower-emission technologies, creating more pathways to a cleaner future.
At ExxonMobil, we’re committed to helping India achieve some of its critical energy goals to power a secure, cleaner future. That’s why we’re here for the long term and for the good of India.