New energy policy also aims at air quality issues

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The new national energy policy, likely to be finalised over the next ten weeks, also factors in concerns about the air quality in the country that has triggered judicial interventions such as the ban on diesel vehicles of certain engine capacities in the capital.

The NDA government had promised a new national energy policy to replace the integrated energy policy introduced by the UPA government, in the President’s address to Parliament in June 2014.

“The draft policy is now ready and we are in touch with energy-related ministries to finalise the same,” a senior government official said. It is expected to be ratified by the cabinet in ten to twelve weeks’ time, the official said.

Hard look

“We have taken a hard look at air quality concerns in the policy, not just because of one fuel or another – as it is not one sector’s responsibility alone,” the official said, adding that transport, power generation and the use of solid fuels for cooking, among other things, contribute to the air pollution.

While a specific ministry is expected to frame policies for their own sector, the energy policy will outline an overarching strategy to address air quality concerns over the long-run.

“We have addressed issues such as energy efficiency, the new alternatives created by technology and will include a Vision 2040 with a possible roadmap to cleaner air,” the official said.

“The policy also examines whether India should pay more attention to global emission norms or focus on our own problem which has to do with the high particulate matter,” he said.

The existing integrated energy policy needed a fresh look, a Niti Aayog official explained, as the cost dynamics have changed dramatically for energy sources like gas and renewable energy.

“Solar energy has become more affordable and gas prices have also come down significantly since 2006, so both these sources for power will now get their due pride of place in the new policy,” the official said.

Geospatial map

The government’s think tank is also setting up a dedicated energy data agency with the help of its U.S. counterpart, the Energy Information Administration (EIA). The external affairs ministry has approved the signing of a pact between the U.S. agency and the Niti Aayog on Thursday.

Presently, different ministries such as petroleum, coal and power have their own databases, but there’s no holistic energy data source in the country, the official explained.

Separately, a new geospatial map is being created to help investors identify sites in the country with high solar radiation levels, as well as power transmission lines and sub-stations and demand centres with their estimated energy requirements, the official said.