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G M Pillai Founder Director General, WISE

Pathway to 2025 and beyond

– G M Pillai

Founder Director General

India today, is a frontrunner in leading the world towards a low-carbon and sustainable energy economy. WISE has relentlessly worked over the past seventeen years in supporting the Indian government in this endeavour, and we can proudly say that our efforts have borne fruit, with renewables moving from the periphery into the mainstream during this period.

While the country’s efforts in meeting national and international climate and energy goals are commendable, some key challenges still remain.

  • The 2020 World Meteorological Orgnisation’s provisional report on global climate change projects a ‘temporary’ increase of 1.5˚C by 2024. This is not just worrying but a state of ‘climate emergency’ and needs to be addressed urgently.
  • The dual threat of climate related natural disasters (associated with extreme weather events) and the ongoing global pandemic has made our nation and its cities extremely vulnerable to breakdowns from a socio-economic and environmental perspective. In this scenario, the urgency of stepping up efforts in climate adaptation and mitigation has increased manifold.
  • Disruptive technologies like energy storage, electric mobility, decentralized grid networks, and smart grid architecture, while imperative for transitioning to a smart-age electric future, could prove to be a challenge and would require significant work in policy and regulation.
  • The annual global extraction of materials grew from 27 billion tons in 1970 to 92 billion tons in 2017. Further, extraction and processing of global natural resources accounted for approximately 50 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in 2017. It is therefore imperative to decouple natural resource use from economic growth and securitize resource requirements with considered policy at maximizing recycling of resources.
  • In addition, by 2050, half of India’s population is expected to live in cities, and municipal solid waste volumes are expected to triple to about 436 million metric tons. The current pandemic has exacerbated this situation, with single-use, plastic waste (biomedical and household) increasing significantly. A shift from this current paradigm of waste proliferation to a new development paradigm which embraces the concept of resource sufficiency and reduced waste is thus vital.
  • As oil is a volatile commodity both in terms of cost and availability, we need to accelerate our transition to electric mobility. Despite the country’s best efforts, progress in the sector has not been at the desired pace.

“ Our activities of production and enjoyment of wealth attain that spirit of wholeness when they are blended with a creative ideal…otherwise…they become like locomotive engines which have railway lines but no stations. ”

– Rabindranath Tagore
From The Poet’s Religion


WISE’s work upto 2025 and beyond would entail placing the following goals at the forefront of our developmental agenda:

  • Continue to work towards accelerating renewable energy development, because it is critical to meet our NDCs and ensure future energy security.
  • Prioritise continued development of climate expertise both in mitigation and adaptation. WISE has already initiated this process through the development of state mitigation action plans and vision roadmaps, besides currently working in strengthening climate action and resilience building at the sub-national level.
  • Continue to work in energy efficiency, which is one of the key priorities of the sustainable development goals and the NAPCC. WISE has successfully carried out a comprehensive review of the energy efficiency policy landscape in India and developed comprehensive guidelines for a state SDA, besides currently working on developing energy efficiency industry codes for the Government of Bhutan.
  • Undertake specialized research work in the areas of energy storage integration, demand response management, electric mobility, round-the-clock RE networks, and open access (bulk and retail). WISE has already prepared peer-reviewed regulatory approach papers in some of these areas.
  • Enhance research and advisory support capabilities in the digitalization space, particularly in the areas of digital maturity mapping, digital technology assessment, AMI, automation, asset management systems, CRM, communication and cyber security. WISE has already worked in this area and is currently associated with a leading utility to develop a digital roadmap.
  • Resource security, resource recycling and development of a circular economy is another focus area. We have already begun work in this sphere and have successfully developed a circular economy model for e-waste management for Pune city in Maharashtra.
  • Develop expertise in technology, regulation and market integration of electric vehicles.
  • Continue to advise national and sub-national governments and institutions in designing and implementing innovative institutional and governance mechanisms to bolster the power sector as well as strengthen climate action, through upgradation of skills, knowledge and acquisition of new technologies, by building on our ongoing efforts.

Our work in energy, climate and sustainability offers infinite possibilities for innovation and the chance to attain knowledge in new and emerging technical areas and in research and development. It is going to be a continuous challenge, since transitions in the energy sector takes decades, and the challenge of climate change may be there for a long time. But we at WISE are more motivated than ever to face these challenges head on. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “ The future depends on what you do today. ” And we owe this to our future generations because, “ We do not inherit this earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children ” – Native Red Indian, Chief Seattle.

“ Remember that energy transitions are inherently prolonged affairs lasting decades, not years…avoid the tendency to confuse energy transitions with advances in computing power. Energy innovations are not subject to Moore’s law, and we cannot keep doubling the efficiency of our energy use or halving the cost…in eighteen to twenty four months. ”

– Vaclav Smil
From Energy Myths and Realities

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