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Ashok Kotwal
The challenge of job creation
Posted on: 15 Dec 2017
The process of economic transformation that entails labour transitioning from low- to high ... read on »
GST Explainer: Introduction
Posted on: 16 Oct 2017
Seventeen years after its framework was formed, India’s biggest tax reform – the goods and ... read on »
Introducing a new feature: ‘Explainers’
Posted on: 16 Oct 2017
Our day-to-day lives are tossed around due to economic changes, resulting sometimes from g ... read on »
On demonetisation
Posted on: 23 Dec 2016
On the evening of 8 November, the Prime Minister announced on national television that Rs. ... read on »

Tag: energy

Riding the energy transition: Oil beyond 2040
Reda Cherif , Fuad Hasanov , Aditya Pande
Posted on: 08 Dec 2017

The motor vehicle was very quick to replace horses in the early 20th century, and the advent of the electric car suggests that another profound shift in transportation and energy could be around the corner. This column projects how different rates of electric car adoption will affect oil demand and consumption over the next three decades. In a fast-adoption scenario, oil prices could converge to the level of current coal prices by the early 2040s. Even under a slow-adoption scenario, oil could become obsolete before it is depleted.
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Are India’s government-subsidised solar shops thriving or barely surviving?
Jennifer Richmond , Kartikeya Singh
Posted on: 10 Aug 2017

Government of India’s Akshay Urja programme sought to support the establishment of at least one shop per district for the sale of subsidised solar-powered technologies. Based on a survey of shop owners, this column finds that while the programme has been successful in establishing a network of solar shops across the country, many of the owners struggle to connect their products to large markets of consumers.
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Off-grid solar power and the future of rural electrification in India
Michaёl Aklin , Patrick Bayer , S.P. Harish , Johannes Urpelainen
Posted on: 17 Jul 2017
Topics:   Environment


Off-grid solar power is a potential alternative to grid extension in rural electrification. This column reports results from a recent experiment with an off-grid lighting intervention in Uttar Pradesh. While little evidence of broader socioeconomic changes was found, the study suggests that kerosene subsidies likely hold back the expansion of off-grid solar markets, and that there are many ways in which benefits of off-grid solar power can be enhanced.
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Solar micro-grids in India: A reality check
Anant Sudarshan
Posted on: 01 Nov 2016

Much of India’s strategy to reduce the use of fossil fuels relies on a transition to solar energy. Based on a survey of potential solar micro-grid customers in Bihar, this column highlights the challenges associated with solar electricity becoming a sustainable and scalable solution, and the need for a new approach.
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The hidden productivity benefits of energy-saving technology: Evidence from LEDs in Indian factories
Achyuta Adhvaryu , Namrata Kala , Anant Nyshadham
Posted on: 03 Oct 2016

Energy-efficient technologies are an increasingly relevant policy priority, given growing consensus on the need to tackle climate change. This column examines the productivity benefits of adopting one such technology – LED lighting – for manufacturing firms in India. It finds that improved productivity resulting from LED lighting’s lower heat emissions makes adopting such technology far less costly than previous anticipated, particularly for labour-intensive firms in hot climates.
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Panel Discussion: Two years of Modi government
Pranab Bardhan , Parikshit Ghosh , Pratap Bhanu Mehta , Mihir Sharma
Posted on: 29 Aug 2016
Topics:   Political Economy


In  a panel discussion organised to mark the 4th anniversary of Ideas for India, I4I Editor Parikshit Ghosh (Delhi School of Economics) moderates a discussion on ‘Two years of Modi government’ among Pranab Bardhan (University of California, Berkeley), Mihir Sharma (Bloomberg View) and Pratap Bhanu Mehta (Centre for Policy Research), encompassing issues related to policy and governance; corruption; manufacturing; social sector; and social and cultural issues.
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Fast breeder reactors and the slow progress of India’s nuclear programme
M.V. Ramana
Posted on: 16 Aug 2016

Breeder reactors have always underpinned the claims of India’s Department of Atomic Energy about generating large quantities of electricity. The first Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor was expected to start sustaining a chain reaction back in 2010, but the reactor is massively delayed, taking more than twice the expected period. In this article, M.V. Ramana, a physicist at Princeton University, outlines the history of missed targets and contends that these reactors are best regarded as failed technology, in India and elsewhere.
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Improved cooking stoves in India: Evaluating long-run impacts
Esther Duflo , Michael Greenstone , Rema Hanna , Claire Walsh
Posted on: 13 Jul 2016
Topics:   Environment , Health


Improved cooking stoves are increasingly seen as an important technology to address indoor air pollution. While laboratory experiments have shown that they could have big effects on smoke exposure and emissions, this column finds limited long-run health and environmental impacts of an improved cooking stove programme in Odisha. This indicates the importance of testing interventions in real-world conditions taking into account willingness to pay, usage, and changes over time.
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Cheaper, cleaner, more reliable: Why invest in cross-border power-trading
Deb Chattopadhyay , P. N. Fernando , Priyantha DC Wijayatunga
Posted on: 07 Mar 2016

Despite improvements to energy supply over the years, many Indian states still face frequent power shortages. Meanwhile, neighbouring countries such as Nepal and Bhutan have large reserves of untapped hydropower with the potential to meet unserved demand for energy in major load centres. Investing in interconnections could also contribute to significant reductions in carbon emissions. This column quantifies potential gains from an integrated South Asian power.
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Three cheers (not) for Jaitapur
M.V. Ramana
Posted on: 25 Jan 2016
Topics:   Infrastructure


During French President Hollande’s ongoing visit to India, India and France are expected to announce that they are going to enter into an agreement to import six nuclear reactors marketed by the French company Areva, which are to be constructed in Jaitapur in Maharashtra. In this article, M.V. Ramana, physicist and lecturer at Princeton University´s Program on Science and Global Security and the Nuclear Futures Laboratory, discusses three reasons for the Indian government to not enter into the agreement.
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Access to energy in rural India: A survey of six states
Chao-yo Cheng , Abhishek Jain , Johannes Urpelainen
Posted on: 18 Jan 2016
Topics:   Infrastructure


While access to energy is crucial for socioeconomic development, statistically representative surveys on the issue are missing in India. Based on a survey on energy access in six energy-poor states in north India, this column finds that although domestic electricity connections in rural areas have increased rapidly, quality of supply remains poor. In terms of clean cooking fuels, people strongly prefer LPG but poor availability and high upfront costs of connections limit access.
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Coal and the climate change debate
Milind Kandlikar , E. Somanathan , Arvind Subramanian
Posted on: 03 Dec 2015
Topics:   Environment


In the run-up to the Paris Climate Summit, there has been a growing call among advanced nations to phase out fossil fuels. In this article, Arvind Subramanian, Chief Economic Adviser, Government of India, argues that shunning coal is not viable for India. Instead, the world should come together to find effective techniques to ‘clean and green’ coal.

E. Somanathan, Executive Director, South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics, contends that it makes no economic sense to make further investments in coal, and that public policy should now be focused on renewable sources of energy.

Milind Kandlikar, Professor at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, University of British Columbia, says that he is also not in favour of investing in coal, but is less optimistic about solar power in India in the medium term due to issues of grid integration and land requirements.

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Can solar micro-grids deliver basic electricity access in Indian villages?
Michaёl Aklin , Patrick Bayer , S.P. Harish , Johannes Urpelainen
Posted on: 17 Apr 2015

About one-third of India´s population remains without access to basic electricity services. This column discusses preliminary lessons from an experiment in rural Uttar Pradesh that seeks to set up solar micro-grids in unelectrified habitations. It finds that while the cost of solar power is a potential obstacle to its adoption, the technology does generate substantial benefits in the form of improved lighting and reduced kerosene expenditures.
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Harnessing India’s wind power potential
Deepthi Swamy
Posted on: 09 Mar 2015

While India’s wind power sector has progressed significantly in the past decade, only about 22% of its potential has been harnessed so far. In this article, Deepthi Swamy - who was part of a team that worked with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy to develop a framework for the National Wind Energy Mission - discusses the issues faced by the sector, need for a mission-mode approach, and the proposed contours for such a mission.
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Solar power for street vendors? Lessons from an experiment in Bihar
David Szakonyi , Johannes Urpelainen
Posted on: 06 Feb 2015

Rapid urbanisation in developing countries is aggravating the issue of insufficient access to energy for basic needs such as lighting. This column discusses lessons from an experiment in Bihar wherein street vendors were provided solar-powered lights, the batteries of which were charged at centralised stations installed in urban marketplaces. Based on problems encountered in terms of the mode and cost of operation, it suggests that the provision of electric grid connections, with stand-alone solar lights as backup, may be a better approach.
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Can a clean energy agenda take off in Delhi?
Marie-Hélène Zérah
Posted on: 19 Mar 2014
Topics:   Environment


Energy transition in cities, through energy conservation measures and increased reliance on renewable energy, has become a key focus of climate change policies. This column outlines the clean energy agenda of the power sector in Delhi, and discusses the endorsement of or resistance to the agenda by public institutions, power distribution companies and users of electricity.
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Proposing a solution for Indo-US ‘solar wars’
Saptak Ghosh
Posted on: 28 Feb 2014

India’s national solar programme mandates the use of domestically manufactured components in solar power installations in the country. The US has filed a WTO case against India, alleging that the policy discriminates against US exports. This column proposes a solution that would address the concerns of US as well as create a domestic market for solar products produced in India.
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In pursuit of low-carbon electricity
Ashwini Kumar Swain
Posted on: 06 Sep 2013
Topics:   Environment


The policy debate on low-carbon energy often tends to focus solely on setting targets. This column argues that the State’s capacity to meet targets and the strategies followed to build the required capacity are equally important. Meeting the targets requires creative manoeuvres such as involving and incentivising market players to participate.
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Renewable energy and India’s future
Ramprasad Sengupta
Posted on: 13 May 2013
Tags:   energy


In the world’s second-most populous country, it is unsurprising that the topic of energy supply should be a key issue – and, in particular, its sustainability. This column completes a series on India’s energy challenges. It argues that sustainable energy supply and continued rapid economic growth of India can be compatible.
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The unsustainability of fossil fuel use in India
Ramprasad Sengupta
Posted on: 17 Apr 2013
Topics:   Environment
Tags:   energy


India’s dependence on fossil fuel is widely regarded as unsustainable. This column highlights that this unsustainability is not just environmental in character, but is emerging as a macroeconomic one as well, leading to challenges for India on multiple fronts – discovering new sources of hydrocarbon deposits, developing new renewables and strengthening the macroeconomic fundamentals by making India a more attractive destination for FDI.
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India’s energy consumption: The next 20 years
Ramprasad Sengupta
Posted on: 08 Mar 2013
Topics:   Environment
Tags:   energy


The environment is a concern the world over – and India is no exception. This column plots India’s energy consumption through to 2032, asking where the challenges lie and where policy reform might make a difference.
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The Clean Development Mechanism in India – is it working?
Johannes Urpelainen
Posted on: 01 Oct 2012
Topics:   Environment


The Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol allows developing countries to profit from climate friendly projects, and India is second only to China in using the mechanism to help reduce its carbon emissions. But, unlike China, India does not have a national policy. This column argues that as a result the profits are not going to the states that need them most.
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