Moving Towards Sustainable Energy Systems

By: Seethapathy Chander

The manufacturing sector globally has undergone disruptive changes three times in the past and is now into its fourth revolution, where digitisation, automation, and artificial intelligence play an increasing role. The same can be said of energy systems. On the production process side, the same technological and economic drivers are pushing for changes. On the demand side, digitisation and automation are driving towards more interactive and adaptive, “bottom-up” systems. To compound this further, renewable energy systems are being brought in on an ever-increasing scale. Clearly, conventional business models and strategies are not going to work in such an atmosphere of uncertainty. Renewable energy is already challenging some established norms, and with competitive electricity storage systems in sight, conventional energy players are preparing to adapt to this new normal and are redesigning strategies to stay relevant in the new ecosystem.

The first sign of such major change is being felt in the automotive sector, and through it to the electricity sector. The new development is pushing towards the complete dominance of electric vehicles. But for society to take advantage of this development, new infrastructure needs to be established, and some of the standards and rules of the market rewritten. Battery costs have steadily decreased and experts expect costs of less than US$ 100 per kWh of storage capacity over the next five years. Massive deployment of electric vehicles with internal storage will have a profound effect on load patterns and supply network demands. Increasing electrification of the transport sector is also threatening to disrupt fuel markets and supply chains.

Charting the journey of ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all Indians is going to be different in the coming times. Agility and smartness in this process will determine the winners and losers among states and societies. Thus, understanding and evolving competitive strategies become important to all – both big and small.

The upcoming 7th India Energy Congress being held in New Delhi on February 1 and 2, 2018 will debate many of these issues. The India Energy Congress is an apex level conference of the World Energy Council India and joint event of Ministries of Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy, Petroleum & Natural Gas, External Affairs and Department of Atomic Energy; attended by experts from both India and outside. India is the world’s third largest consumer of energy and its third largest emitter of greenhouse gases. By both measures, how it charts its course will have a profound impact on global economic and ecological well-being.

(Seethapathy Chander is Advisor, WEC India and former Director General, Asian Development Bank)

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