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  • Author: Ankit Bhardwaj, Federico De Lorenzo, Marie-Hélène Zérah
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: Despite the potential of cities to foster a low-carbon energy transition, the governance of energy in India broadly remains within the purview of central and state governments. However, the Smart Cities Mission, a new urban scheme launched in 2015, gives Indian cities new powers to govern energy, a surprising departure from previous urban and energy policies. We argue that this shift is significant and we therefore raise three questions: 1) what kind of energy projects are planned and what does it reveal about the cities’ vision towards energy? 2) does the Smart Cities Mission foster a low-carbon energy transition and if so, how is this transition envisaged? 3) and finally, what are the rationale and the drivers behind this apparent shift? To address these questions, we build on a database of projects and financing plans submitted by the first 60 cities selected in the Smart Cities Mission. We find that cities have earmarked an immense 13,161 INR crore (~1.4 billion GBP) for energy projects, with most funds dedicated to basic infrastructure, primarily focused on enhancing the grid and supply. Cities also proposed projects in solar energy, electric vehicles, waste to energy and LED lighting, indicating their appetite for low-carbon projects. While cities were given institutional space to prioritise certain technologies, their interventions were conditioned by centrally sources of financing which were limited to certain mandated technologies. A focus on technology, rather than planning, undermined the role of cities as strategic decision-makers. What emerges is a dual faced reading of the Smart Cities Mission, indicating the potential and pitfalls of contemporary decentralized energy governance in the Global South.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Social Policy, Urban
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Megha Kaladharan
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: India emerged as a key player in the recent international climate talks in Paris. On the global stage, India reiterated its commitment towards clean energy and reducing carbon emissions.1 India’s increased thrust on renewable energy is outlined in the 2015 national budget, which set a five-fold increase in renewable energy targets to achieve 175 GW by 2022. This comprises 100 GW solar, 60 GW wind, 10 GW biomass and 5 GW small hydropower capacity, supported by a substantial budgetary allocation. The existing generation capacity is dominated by conventional coal-fired thermal power (211 GW as of May, 2016, 70% of total capacity). State distribution companies (Discoms) are by far the largest purchaser of electricity, including that from renewable energy sources. Therefore, the ability of the Discoms to purchase such power lies at the heart of the success of the national level directional shift from conventional to renewable power. However, presently, Discoms are reeling under massive debts and their actions are often dictated by local political factors rather than the achievement of operational and technical efficiency. Working towards the ambitious national renewable energy targets necessarily requires a revamp of the electricity distribution sector. Major legislative amendments and policy changes have been made and are underway at the central level to create an enabling environment for the nationwide growth of renewable energy. This paper proposes to analyse the existing constitutional and regulatory framework within which Discoms and other key stakeholders in the renewable power sector operate. The implications of the recently proposed amendments to the Electricity Act, 2003 (Electricity Act), the National Tariff Policy and provisions of the Draft Renewable Energy Act will be discussed in detail. A discussion on renewable energy is incomplete without an understanding of the legislative and judicial trends that govern the Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) imposed on Discoms. The paper offers an insight into the perspectives of Discoms, regulators and governments on RPO compliance. Further, the larger debate surrounding electricity sector reform and its implications for the renewable power sector have been analysed.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Regulation, Renewable Energy
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Shibani Ghosh
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: In October 2015, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change released a Draft Environment Laws (Amendment) Bill 2015 proposing amendments to the Environment (Protection) Act 1986 and the National Green Tribunal Act 2010. The stated objective of the Bill is to provide ‘effective deterrent penal provisions’ and to introduce the concept of monetary penalty. It also aims ‘to minimise the exercise of discretion and make an unambiguous framework’. This paper summarises the text of the Bill and analyses whether it will complement the environmental objectives the parent laws espouse. It discusses some of the major concerns relating to the proposed amendments under three broad themes: environmental damage and penalties, adjudicating authorities and rule making powers. It concludes that although penalties that effectively deter violators are certainly the need of the hour, the proposed amendments are unlikely to achieve this objective.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Law Enforcement, Law, Legislation, Deterrence
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia