India’s energy crisis has been compounded by a series of events that have sent the country spiralling towards a second energy crisis, the head of the country’s national energy watchdog has said.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Times Of India, Ajay Gupta said that the country was on the brink of a second fuel crisis, with India’s oil output and its gas production both expected to decline sharply.
“It is quite obvious that the situation has reached the point where the government will not be able to cope with the challenges,” he said.
“And there will be no way to contain it.”
India’s energy situation was already in a perilous state by the time the current fuel crisis began in December 2016, but a sudden drop in oil prices has compounded the situation.
Last week, the country experienced its worst energy crisis in nearly four decades, when crude oil prices plummeted to around $50 a barrel.
The fall has left India’s economy in a “very dangerous” situation, Gupta said, and with a looming fuel crisis that could leave millions of its citizens out of work, the government is not prepared to tackle the problem.
In an attempt to address the fuel crisis and avert the worst consequences of the fuel price drop, the Energy Ministry has ordered a sharp increase in the number of coal-fired power plants.
However, the minister is facing pressure from a number of quarters to lower the fuel subsidy, and has warned that it may be years before India can reverse the sharp fall in oil price.
“The only way out of this situation is to get the subsidy cut,” he told The Times.
“It is going to take years before we get the full subsidy cut.”
India has struggled to implement policies that would boost the country with clean energy, with the government currently facing a number or multiple delays in bringing down its emissions of CO2 and methane.
India has only recently begun to build up a large network of small-scale renewable power stations, with some coal-burning power stations expected to shut down in the coming months.
In a country where many believe that a lack of infrastructure and resources are the primary factors in its energy crisis and the country is running short of clean, affordable energy, the fact that coal and gas-fired generation are being shut down is a very worrying development, said Gupta.
“We need to look at ways to make this energy transition more sustainable and to do this, we need to find the right policies,” he added.
“But in order to do that, we will need to address a lot of the key issues that are preventing us from doing so, and the way we are trying to do so is by making sure that the right policy frameworks are in place.”