Achieving Sustainable Development Goals | Energy Sector of India

India, home to 18% of the world’s population, uses only 6% of the world’s primary energy. India’s energy consumption has almost doubled since 2000 and the potential for further rapid growth is enormous. India is set to contribute more than any other country to the projected rise in global energy demand, around one-quarter of the total: even so, energy demand per capita in 2040 is still 40% below the world average. (India Energy Outlook :World Energy Outlook Special Report, 2015) There is an imperative today to foster Sustainable Development. Energy is central to sustainable development. It accelerates social progress and enhances productivity.  Sustainable Development Goals or Global Goals build on the principles agreed upon in Resolution entitled “The Future We Want” is a result of Rio+20 Conference held in 2012; Out of conceived 169 targets for 17 Goals, Goal 7 talks about Affordable and Clean Energy, “To Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”. (UNDP Support to the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy, 2016)

Primary Energy Demand in India by Fuel

India generated 2,505 MtCO2eq of GHGs in 2010 (Source: World Development Indicators, World Bank) through anthropogenic activities. A significant 43% (electricity/ heat – 37% and other fuel consumption – 6%) of this was contributed by the energy sector. Buildings in India accounted for 35% of the total energy consumption (Source: GBPN – Mitigation potential in India’s buildings). Further, due to the nexus of the transport sector (direct emissions: 6%, 2010, World Bank),especially passenger transport and the industry sector (direct emissions: 17%, 2010, World Bank),with urban lifestyles in India, it can be said that direct and indirect emissions attributed to urbanization in India pose a serious threat contributing to climate change.

Annual Per Capita Electricity Consumption State wise in India

Three-quarters of Indian energy demand is met by fossil fuels, a share that has been rising as households gradually move away from the traditional use of solid biomass for cooking. Coal remains the backbone of the Indian power sector, accounting for over 70% of generation and is the most plentiful domestic fossil-fuel resource, although, as in the case of oil and gas, dependence on coal imports has grown in recent years. India was the world’s third-largest importer of crude oil in 2014, but is also a major exporter of oil products, thanks to a large refining sector. (India Energy Outlook :World Energy Outlook Special Report, 2015)

Energy Demand by Fuel in selected end use sectors in India


The provision of electricity is critical to India’s energy and economic outlook and is a major area of uncertainty for the future. The country’s electricity demand in 2013 was 897 terawatt-hours (TWh) , up from 376 TWh in 2000, having risen over this period at an average annual rate of 6.9%. Electricity now constitutes some 15% of final energy consumption, an increase of around four percentage points since 2000. The provision of electricity is a shared responsibility between the central and state authorities in India: states have significant freedom to set electricity prices, the average subsidy level and the beneficiaries of the cross-subsidisation. In practice, there are large differences in circumstances between the various states and a wide range of performance across various indicators, such as progress towards universal access, success in reducing losses from theft, non-billing and non-payment, and electricity losses in transmission and distribution (for which six states registered total losses of less than 15% of available supply in 2012-2013, while four had losses greater than 40% [CEA, 2014a])

Total electricity generation in India by fuel

The solution to India’s electricity dilemma is not only to raise average tariffs and add more capacity (although both will be essential over time), but also to deal with inefficiencies and bottlenecks. Although there is an overall shortage of power, utilisation rates in coal fired plants have actually fallen considerably in recent years, down from a peak of almost 80% in 2007 to around 64% in 2014. The decline has been even more dramatic in the case of gas-fired power plants, which ran less than a fourth of the time on average in 2014 (CEA, 2014b). Over 85% of India’s coal plants use subcritical generation technology, and the average efficiency of India’s coal-fired fleet is just under 35%, below that of China or the United States. Poor coal quality (high ash content) and the relatively high ambient temperatures in India also play a role in lower efficiency levels.

Multiplicity of Organizations

Main Institutions in India with influence on energy policy

In India energy demand is propelled upwards to 2040 by an economy that grows to more than five-times its current size and population growth that makes it the most populous country in the world. Energy consumption more than doubles to 2040, with the rise in coal use making India by far the largest source of growth in global coal demand. A 6 mb/d rise in oil use is likewise the largest projected for any country, as 260 million new passenger vehicles are added to the stock and as LPG substitutes for fuelwood as a cooking fuel in households.

Selected policy Recommendations

Source: (India Energy Outlook :World Energy Outlook Special Report, 2015)

Cross-cutting policies

  • Priority attached to the energy-related National Missions (on solar energy and enhanced energy efficiency) from the 2008 National Action Plan on Climate Change, as well as the wind power targets.
  • A continued levy on coal (domestic and imported) to support the National Clean Energy Fund.

 Energy supply

  • Measures to increase fossil-fuel supply, notably of coal, in order to limit import dependence.
  • Greater encouragement to private investment in energy supply, through loosening of existing restrictions and simplification of licensing procedures.
  •  Efforts to expedite environmental clearances and land allocation for large energy projects.

India domestic energy balance 2013 and 2040

 Power sector

  • A strong push in favour of renewable energy, notably solar and wind power, motivated by the target to reach 175 GW of installed renewable capacity (excluding large hydro) by 2022.
  • Enhanced efforts on village electrification and connection of households lacking electricity supply, with the aim to reach universal electricity access.
  • Move towards mandatory use of supercritical technology in new coal-fired power generation.
  • Expanded efforts to strengthen the national grid and reduce losses towards the targeted 15%.


  • Fuel-efficiency standards for new cars and light trucks starting in 2016.
  • Policy support for biofuels (via blending mandates) and natural gas, hybrid and electric vehicles.
  • Dedicated rail corridors to encourage a shift away from road freight.


  • Efforts to increase the share of manufacturing in GDP, via the “Make in India” programme.
  • Enhanced efficiency measures in line with the Perform, Achieve and Trade scheme; support for energy audits, as well as new financing mechanisms for energy efficiency improvements.


  • Efforts to plan and rationalise urbanisation in line with the “100 smart cities” concept.
  • Moving from voluntary to mandatory appliance standards; application to a wider range of appliances.
  •  Extension of the building code and efforts to incorporate it more into local and municipal by-laws.
  • Subsidies for LPG as an alternative to solid biomass as a cooking fuel.


  • Shift towards metered electricity consumption.
  • Continued gradual reforms to energy pricing, promotion of micro-irrigation, groundwater management and crop diversification.
  • (2015). India Energy Outlook :World Energy Outlook Special Report. Paris : International Energy Agency.
  • (2016). UNDP Support to the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy. United Nations Development Programme.
  • Abbreviations: IEA, International energy Agency; CEA, Central Electricity Authority