November 19, 2020

Energy | Insights from Charcha 2020

With oil prices falling, the surplus to the national treasury creates an opportunity to strengthen structures that incentivize renewable energy and electrical vehicles. There is a need to improve public communication at the highest levels of government on the need for clean energy. A potential climate change and clean energy bill can be an interesting proposition. Covid-19 has changed the public’s pulse on a cleaner environment. The fact that the people have seen cleaner skies, is an opportunity to increase pressure institutions to move push the clean energy agenda. Enterprise development is an important aspect of the clean energy agenda. While the opportunity is large, developing the ability to pay in rural areas is important.

The emerging energy agenda

Clean energy agenda post COVID-19 and decentralized energy has a key role in serving the current need of livelihood generation in rural India. This can act as an opportunity to shift away from renewable equipment procurement from China to manufacturing units in India. The immediate priority should be protecting the sector so that there is an opportunity for future growth. This can result in livelihood generation in rural India. Putting the DRE sector at the heart of that (construction, installing activities) can be a valuable proposition infixing the immediate job crisis and also move towards long-term solutions.


Covid-19 is also a communications opportunity for the energy sector. COVID has brought up the importance of network and communities and how it has been a channel for behaviour change. We need to invest more in generating information channels that people can trust and will be instrumental in creating resilient communities. The last few months have shown the resilience of nature. When nature is given space - we have cleaner air, cleaner lakes. This is seen as an immense possibility to change things.


Clean cooking solutions and transport systems

There is a need for clean cooking during this crisis and the supply chain management required to make that happen. The economic changes have forced people to go out and collect again. The support governments provide is critical. We need to make sure they include access to clean cooking in their planning. Making sure subsidies are provided, supply chains are running, and providing support for companies supplying cooking fuel is necessary.


Similarly, we need to design the future of green transport systems in India. Mobility needs to be thought through holistically – including public spaces, non-motorized transport and financing aspect of non-mobility elements such as housing. People don’t have equitable and affordable access to housing that is close work, and hence require to commute. We need innovative solutions to address this in the post-Covid normal.


Challenges and the way forward

The fragmentation of energy goals is a problem.Multiple ministries require and deal with energy, but work in silos. A better transition to renewables requires a well coordinated effort. COVID-19 offers an opportunity for the government to restructure ministries and departments dealing with energy.

Pressure points

  • Immediate needs for urban mobility, green transport in the post-Covid era
  • Decentralizing energy to remove bottlenecks in economic growth
  • Energy as an emerging sector for rural livelihoods
  • Need for clean energy innovations to sustain environmental gains
  • Fragmentation of energy goals across multiple ministries

Download the full Insight report on Charcha 2020, covering 16 events and 150+ hours of discussion.

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