India: Looking Beyond the Oil Market

Starbus
Tata’s fuel cell-driven Starbus, © Tata Motors

Due to a population that continues to grow and a booming economy, India will be the country to experience the largest increase in energy demand by 2040, according to the IEA’s latest World Energy Outlook published in 2017. The immense hunger for energy is being driven mainly by additions of generation capacity as well as electric vehicles. The government knows that fossil fuels will be able to meet only part of that huge demand. Even today, India is forced to import large quantities of oil. Not least because of the ratification of the Paris climate accords has it set a 40 percent renewable production target by 2030.

The rise in consumption has already moved India to third place, after the United States and China, on the list of countries emitting the most carbon dioxide. To follow through with the goals it established as part of the Paris climate accords, it will need to implement drastic cuts in fossil fuel use. Expanding the application of renewable energy is just one objective of the government, which has also established reforestation programs and ordered the planting of new trees to provide more opportunities for capturing carbon dioxide.

Decarburizing transportation is near the top of the agenda, as the high number of oil imports are costing India a fortune. Ever-increasing traffic, particularly on the road, is likewise beginning to have detrimental effects, both on the people and the environment throughout metropolitan areas and large cities such as Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai. The government created regulations to replace petroleum-based fuels with natural gas in public transportation and effect drastic reductions in air pollution levels as early as 2008.

A very popular means of transportation in the world’s second most-populous country, and one that is virtually unknown in Europe, is an auto rickshaw, colloquially called a tuk-tuk, with a two-stroke engine. Most of these rickshaws have three wheels and are used to transport goods or, as taxicabs, people around a city. Not only do they play an important role in India’s mass transit system but they also represent a sizeable market. There is an entire loan program for the sole purpose of people purchasing a rickshaw – which costs about EUR 2,000 – and becoming self-employed. It is a very attractive option, for example, to pay for one’s university studies. In 2015, the number of auto rickshaws sold and registered in India exceeded half a million.

 

read more: October issue H2-international

 

Written by Alexandra Huss

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