Theme Session-2 on ‘Alternative Energy: Beyond Fossil Fuels’

The second Theme Session at PETROTECH-2016 was held at ‘Alternative Energy: Beyond Fossil Fuels’ at VigyanBhawan, New Delhi. The session was chaired by Mr. Anil Kakodkar, INAE SatishDhawan Chair of Engg. Eminence, BARC; and moderated byMr.Namit Sharma from McKinsey. The eminent speakers for the session included Dr. David H. Turpin, President, University of Albert, Canada;Mr. M.K. Surana, CMD, HPCL;Mr.Sumant Sinha, CEO,ReNew Power Ventures Pvt. Ltd.;Dr. AjayMathur, Director General, TERI;Dr. Frank O Sullivan, Director, MIT Energy Initiative; Dr. V.K. Saraswat, Member, NITI Aayog; and Mr. Sandeep Poundrik, Jt. Secretary (Refineries), Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

Mr.Namit Sharma commenced the session by highlighting the major changes in structural demand of oil &gas resources in the future. Predicting that demand for coal will peak around 2030-2040 and then start declining marginally, he added that oil demand for light vehicles is likely to peak by 2025. He added that most of the growth in energy sources is expected to come from non-fossil fuels. Taking the discussionforward, Dr. Frank O Sullivan said that electricity sector is the most important sector to reduce emissions, so that nations can achieve COP21 goals. The past decade has seen tremendous growth in wind and solar. He went on to say that in next few years solar energy is going to dominate wind energy. ‘As renewables play an increasing role, insights regarding their impact on the system and their own competitiveness are increasing’, he added. He also said that intermittent nature of renewables requires a thoughtful design of power market. Transition to a renewable heavy future requires close collaboration with technical, policy and regulatory experts.

Mr. Sandeep Poundrik underlined the initiative of the Govt. of India to reduce import dependence in his speech. Mentioning that in the future, coal and oil will contribute maximum contribution to our energy demand, he said that biofuels were sustainable and environmental friendly and could help reduce import dependence “Last year, 87 billion diesel of litres was consumed. With 5% of ethanol blending, we need ~4.2 billion diesel of litres, which represents a huge opportunity gap. Currently we produce only ~ 1 billion diesel of litres’. Reiterating the Government of India’s strong emphasis on increasing procurement of biofuels, he concluded by highlighting the target of Govt. of India to achieve 10% bio-ethanol blending in petrol and 5% bio-diesel blending in diesel by 2022. Taking the session to the next level, Dr. David H. Turpin said that India will experience maximum increase in energy demand across the world in next 25 years. He remarked, ‘India is expected to make more than 1 trillion dollar of investment across a range of energy sources, be it solar, wind, biofuels, coal, oil and gas”. “Multiple challenges exist while dealing with energy sources with different availability and grid needs to be strengthened in tandem”, he added. He advocated raising public awareness and education as they are critical as we move to a different energy landscape. Mentioning that the University of Alberta, received 75 million of dollars of funding to reduce environmental footprint of energy resources, he invited the delegates from oil and gas industry to collaborate with it on some of the key dimensions such as clean Coal, smart grid and cheap flexible solar cells.

Mr. M.K. Surana, CMD, HPCL said that the viability of fossil fuels was increasingbut still there was scope to improve viability to make them a natural choice. Adding that energy demand is likely to go up due to initiatives such as Make in India, sectoral growth, opening up of upstream, etc., headded that hydrocarbons will still provide the bulk of energy requirements. While predicting natural gas to be game changer, he said that renewables have grownthe fastest as compared to nuclear, doubling its share from 1% to 2% in 7 years as compared to nuclear energy which took 16 years. He pointed out that the degree of policy measures in carbon emissions will see advent of electric vehicles and use of cleaner fuels such as gas.

In his address, Mr. Ajay Mathurspoke about the improved quality of life which is associated with an increased amount of energy. However, he warned that this recipe, if followed by developing countries, will fry the whole world. Hence energy efficiency and reduced energy demand is the best way to go forward. Reiterating that India needed to take few important steps which includes lowering the cost of capital and cost effective technology for energy storage, he added that while it was easier to decarbonize electricity market, it was tough to decarbonize fuel market. The solution lay in going for electrification of transport sector. He concluded by saying that significant opportunities existed in creating a platform for energy storage technologies.

While remarking that Renew power is the first renewable energy company to be invited for Petrotech conferenceMr. Sumant Sinhasaid, ‘Wind and solar are most mature renewable energy technologies”. While mentioning that that cost of solar panel has dropped from 1 USD per watt to 0.35 USD per watt in just over a year, he added that the cost of capital could lower down solar energy prices from currently 7 cents to 3 cents. “Currently we have 11% cost of capital which if reduced down to 5% will go a long way in achieving the 3 – 4 cent price per unit”, he said while adding that the Uday scheme will improve the financial health of discom companies. Sharing that a lot of work was underway globally in energy storage and improved grid, he said work was needed to make sure that Indian grid can allow 50% of electricity to come from renewables.

In his address,Dr. VK Saraswat, Member, NITI Ayog, advocated for Methanol economy which, he said, is a viable option. He emphasised that methanol can help country to reduce import independence. Enumerating its benefits, he said that methanol is a clean fuel and good for internal combustion engine.It can be blended with enthanol and biodiesel and is being used as a marine fuel in Europe to reduce sulphur emissions. Methanol is a way to safe and clean cooking and can help country to reduce import independence.

The session concluded with the remarks of session chairperson Mr. Anil Kakodkar. He summed up the session saying, “There is a need to cut on energy imports and biofuels can be one of the way forward. We have to make sure that our grid systems remain stable as we bring more and more renewable energy on the grid. There is a need to cut on energy imports and biofuels can be one of the way forward. Long term sustainability energy will be on the basis of solar and thorium based energy. We should rapidly deploy non-fossil fuels energy including solar, wind and nuclear. 20% of energy is consumed in transportation sector. If electrification of transports happen, then we can also reduce import dependence.All technologies to convert coal to liquid is also a great way to reduce import dependence.Let’s aim at moving towards non fossil fuel economy and not even at Methanol economy.We should also look at carbon sequestration challenge by using algae. Research community should look for ways to improve efficiency of algae based sequestrations’ added Mr. Anil Kakodkar.