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  • Author: Ashwini K. Swain, Parth Bhatia, Ira Sharma, Prasanna Sarada Das, Navroz K. Dubash
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: The draft Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020, released on April 17, 2020, is an improvement from its predecessors. It has dropped some significant proposals that were resisted and has added new provisions. Are these reform proposals adequate and appropriate to address India’s long-standing electricity challenges? Are these prescriptions based on a proper diagnosis of current trends and future challenges? How will these reforms proposals affect India’s ongoing transition to 21st century electricity? While we appreciate the endeavours and intent, in our comments we focus on some serious concerns the draft raises, vital gaps and issues that need serious consideration.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Governance, Legislation, Electricity, Public Service, Utilities
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Deepak Sanan, Sanjay Mitra
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: Reforms designed to address core issues and their sequencing and timing would be critical to ensure the eventual success of the latest initiatives in the power sector. Lessons from the experience of earlier sectoral reform programmes and recommendations regarding the general architecture of central interventions, would need to be taken on board. Through a simple scenario building exercise, this paper concludes that the parlous financial position of the distribution utilities after lockdown requires that “reforms” follow “recovery”. The concurrent roll out of stringent reform measures on several fronts during a period of severe financial stress could seriously impair the prospects of a viable power sector in the near future. This, in turn, will not only hamper our planned promotion of renewables-based electricity but act as a brake on the entire process of economic recovery.
  • Topic: Economics, Energy Policy, Governance, Reform
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • 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: Manju Menon
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: In 2000, the central government declared Northeast India as India’s hydropower hub. Over 165 large dam projects were proposed to come up in the region. These projects were held as crucial to India’s energy and environmental security as well as the economic development of the country’s marginalised northeastern borderlands.However, nearly two decades on, this proposal to regulate the region's water resources remains unimplemented. In addition, the projects have generated a lot of public opposition in Arunachal Pradesh where most of these dams are supposed to be situated, and in the downstream Brahmaputra valley of Assam. This article will look into the government's hype and failure to construct hydropower dams in the Northeast region. It points to the need for a reflexive political decision on water resource management from the BJP-led governments in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and at the Centre.
  • Topic: Development, Energy Policy, Government, Natural Resources, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Ashwini K. Swain, Parth Bhatia, Navroz K. Dubash
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: The proposed amendments to the Electricity Act 2003, released on 7th September 2018, are most critical among the set of planned reforms in the power sector. With significant changes, it seeks to provide an enabling framework for transformations in electricity market, pricing reforms, regulatory oversight, quality of supply and energy security. While we appreciate the endeavours and intent, in our comments we focus on some serious concerns the draft raises, vital gaps and issues that need serious consideration. These comments have been drafted based on an internal discussion at the Centre for Policy Research, and should not be considered an institutional position, as CPR does not take institutional positions on issues. Rather, these comments reflect the result of internal deliberations, aimed at understanding and reflecting on the draft amendments, with the aim of constructive feedback to the Ministry of Power.
  • Topic: Security, Energy Policy, Government, Social Policy, Legislation
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Navroz K. Dubash, Partha Mukhopadhyay, Radhika Khosla, Shibani Ghosh, Ankit Bhardwaj, Swetha Sridhar
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: The Draft National Energy Policy released by the Niti Aayog in June 2017 was a roadmap describing the priorities of the government with regards to India's energy future and a critical reference document for all actors working in this field. This working paper reflects the result of internal deliberations, aimed at understanding and reflecting on the draft NEP, with the aim of constructive feedback to NITI Aayog.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Environment, Government, Finance, Legislation
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Daljit Singh
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: Introduction of competition and providing consumers choice of supplier have been two of the main aims of reform of the electricity sector in India. This paper examines the experience with three measures to fulfill these aims: (1) open-access to the transmission and distribution system; (2) allowing multiple distribution licensees in an area; and (3) proposed Electricity Act Amendments (EAA) for separation of carriage and content in the distribution system for electricity. Open access and multiple distribution licenses have not been very successful for two main reasons. First, there is a mismatch between the perspective of the Centre and the States; the Centre has a long-term perspective focused on competition and efficiency while the States are concerned about more immediate issues of protecting the discoms’ revenues and maintaining affordable tariffs. Second, incomplete and/or faulty legislation and regulations have resulted in ad-hoc rule-making and the Courts having to step in to fill the legislative and regulatory gaps. Two particularly significant examples are: (1) provision in the Electricity Act allowing multiple distribution licensees in the same area that has led to duplication of resources and high tariffs for consumers in Mumbai; and (2) the lack of comprehensive regulations defining the relationship between discoms and open access consumers that has led to difficulties for discoms in managing load swings and in power procurement planning; development of model regulations would be useful. The paper also identifies difficulties in achieving retail competition due to fragmented fuel markets, and suggests ensuring effective wholesale competition first. The proposed framework for separation of carriage and content in EAA is very cumbersome and may not achieve the stated goals. In addition, there are concerns about the impact on small consumers and the finances of the provider of last resort. The implications of EAA should to be thought through more thoroughly before implementation.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Natural Resources, Legislation, Electricity
  • 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: Ashwini K. Swain
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: Despite sustained efforts to reform the sector, electricity distribution in India remains amidst complex problems, manifested in the form of loss-making distribution utilities, poor quality of service, governance ambiguities, and absence of basic data. The current wave of reforms seeks to turnaround the sector’s performance by transforming the generation mix, strengthening the network infrastructure, ensuring universal access and better consumer experience, and financial revival of discoms. While policy signals from the centre appear to be promising and ambitious, given the past records, execution of these reform plans at the state level is uncertain. Against this backdrop, the paper analyses the distribution reform initiated from the centre and the role played by the central government in shaping ideas and stimulating change at the state level. Looking into various diagnoses of the challenges and subsequent reform initiatives, the paper seeks to explain the political economy of successive reform attempts and their outcomes. It also identifies gaps in the current wave of reforms and raises questions for further exploration.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Political Economy, Infrastructure, Governance, Reform, Electricity
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia