Embracing Energy Transition

Embracing Energy Transition

Vinod Tahiliani, CFO, Jio-bp, 0

Vinod Tahiliani, a management postgraduate from IIM Bangalore (1989), has over 30 years of global experience in the oil and gas sector and project financing. He has previously led India Gas Solutions, successfully developed gas value chain businesses and contributed to oil, gas, and power projects in India, Angola, and Vietnam. With Jio-bp, his expertise is invaluable in re-imagining mobility for the Indian customer by growing the business for retailing petrol, diesel and aviation fuel and facilitating the transition towards lower carbon CNG/CBG as well as electric vehicle charging.

In an era where the world grapples with escalating climate concerns, transitioning the energy system towards its cleaner forms is seen as key to shaping our global trajectory towards sustainability. This shift from conventional, finite fossil fuels to renewable, inexhaustible energy sources is required to mitigate climate change while securing energy access for all, and fostering economic development without compromising the needs of future generations. While Governments acknowledge this through Net Zero targets and goals/ policies for increasing renewable energy supplies, we are seeing increasing CO2 emissions since the Paris COP in 2015 (bar 2020 – Covid impact).

Global Needs and Response-
Energy transition is a complex challenge that requires countries, businesses, firms and policymakers to collaborate and phase in cleaner forms of energy with the right incentives and drivers. The transition must be just, feasible, and practical to avoid energy shocks that impact the population at large. My core beliefs about the pace of energy transition are:

• Changes to the energy demand– choices that each of us make – will drive the pace.

• While the share of fossil fuels will gradually decline, the pace at which this happens will vary for different geographies.

• Technology improvements and innovations will drive the adoption of cleaner energy.

To ensure as smooth a transition as possible from fossil fuels to renewable energy requires specific roadmaps defined for each country in its journey towards net zero.

Europe, long at the forefront of renewable energy adoption and climate action, faced the challenge of reducing Russian gas supplies by increasing investments in LNG terminals to source alternate gas supplies. It has bolstered its commitment to ambitious targets outlined in the European Green Deal by expanding renewable energy capacity, leveraging advancements in technology and fostering cross-border collaborations to enhance energy security and sustainability. In addition, the EU persisted in enhancing energy efficiency measures through policy reforms, renovating buildings for sustainability, and promoting circular economy principles to minimize resource wastage.

The US, under the Biden administration, has taken substantial strides in reinvigorating its efforts towards clean energy transition. The Inflation Reduction Act and other federal initiatives aim to accelerate renewable energy deployment, modernize infrastructure, and
incentivize clean energy innovation and research. States such as California and Texas, have made significant investments in wind and solar power, driving growth in renewable energy capacity. Furthermore, the US has emphasized the role of innovation and technology in advancing the energy transition with investments in next-generation energy storage solutions and grid modernization.

India’s Compelling Potential-
Possessing 14 per cent of global primary energy consumption given its size, demographics and growth- India will need all forms of energy to meet the needs of its economy. India’s roadmap for achieving net zero by 2070 highlights the imperative for a just transition – balancing energy security, affordability and access with sustainability. India has witnessed remarkable progress in renewable energy capacity addition, along with increasingly ambitious plans for offshore wind and green hydrogen, e-mobility, energy efficiency and reducing emissions from industry. Despite the significant strides in renewable energy, fossil fuels continue to dominate India’s energy landscape. Coal remains the primary source of electricity generation, accounting for a substantial portion of the country’s energy mix. Coal capacity is used to balance the intermittency of renewables and the seasonal variation of hydroelectric generation. While steps to increase the efficiency of coal-based power plants and invest in cleaner coal technologies help, reducing coal consumption remains a challenge as India needs to meet the energy needs of a growing economy. Similarly, diesel demand for transport is expected to grow till at least 2040.

Digital technology is another focus area to transform and optimize the energy system – increasing recovery of resources, reducing costs of supply and reducing demand.

It is vital to set the policy frameworks and build collaborations to develop optimal solutions. India is advancing its transition efforts in creating a robust green hydrogen economy through the National Hydrogen Mission, Green Hydrogen policy and demand mandates coupled with a production-linked incentive scheme for electrolyzers to make India a global hub for Green Hydrogen production and export. India is also pursuing biofuels through increased ethanol blending and the SATAT (Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation) scheme for increased biogas production. With such policies in place and active government support to keep pushing research and innovation forward, industries are committing significant capital to help develop solutions at scale.

Digital technology is another focus area to transform and optimize the energy system – increasing recovery of resources, reducing costs of supply and reducing demand. It has the potential to reduce current demand by ~18 percent by 2050. For instance, a combination of autonomous vehicles, ride-sharing and intelligent traffic management systems could reduce demand by up to 40 percent in the light-duty vehicle sub-sector; similarly, the adoption of smart homes, smart meters, connected infrastructure and energy management systems could reduce up to 20 percent demand in residential and commercial buildings.

In the intricate tapestry of embracing the energy transition, the critical thread binding success lies in collaboration among industries, policymakers, and governments, to foster innovative sustainable energy solutions to meet societal needs. India appears uniquely positioned to make the transition to cleaner energy while continuing to provide affordable energy for upliftment and development.