Sustainable Energy Security for India: An Assessment of the Energy Supply Sub-System

by Forrest Fulgenzi

As one of the world’s foremost developing countries, India provides a unique case in which to examine energy security. India defines its sustainable energy security (SES) policy as “provisioning of uninterrupted energy services in an affordable, equitable, efficient, and environmentally friendly manner.” According to India’s energy security policy, the end goal of any developing country should be to achieve this level of energy security and resource independence. The World Energy Outlook forecasts that India’s energy demand will significantly change during the period of 2014-2040 (IEA 2015.), where it will experience a move to the center stage of the world energy system which will cause a shift in demand. Thus, India needs policies for rapid expansion of energy systems while also looking for a sustainable means to achieve these goals.

Narula et al. (2017) provide a new method to assess India’s SES that creates a clearer picture of what the country requires to achieve these ends. Narula et al. argue that a proper analysis needs to take into account three sub systems of the energy sector: energy supply, energy demand, and energy conversion and distribution. Variables that are taken into account within each sub system include: domestic energy resources, availability of resources, affordability, acceptability, efficiency, and net imports/exports within the country. The researchers then weighted and normalized all of these metrics and then created a composite score to determine an overall SES score.

These composite scores took on a value of anywhere between 0 being the least secure to a 1 being sustainable and independent. Results indicated that India’s SES score was a 0.75, indicating that there is still room for improvement. Results also indicated that the SES index for import of nuclear fuel and for coal is much higher than domestic nuclear fuel, which suggests efforts for imported fuel need to be undertaken to mitigate environmental impacts. Lastly researchers also suggested moving away from imported natural gas as inadequate infrastructure and limited storage capacity diminished the SES index for natural gas imports. An alternative to this solution would be to invest more in domestic production of natural gas so as to maximize the SES index.

This analysis becomes useful in determining how to best approach energy policy in the future, and gives a glimpse into the specific sub sectors that need to be addressed as well. As a rapidly developing country, the economy is growing with different sub sectors growing at different rates, and this new SES assessment can help give a better idea into which sub sectors need more attention as growth continues.

IEA (International Energy Agency), 2015. World Energy Outlook 2015. Paris: OECD/IEA


Narula, K., Reddy, B. S., Pachauri, S., & Dev, S. M. (2017). Sustainable energy security for India: An assessment of the energy supply sub-system. Energy Policy, 103, 127-144.


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