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Climate resilience will be crucial for India's economic growth and energy transition: Report

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The new report by RMI India and RMI reinforces the urgency of mainstreaming climate resilience into India’s power sector planning.

NEW DELHI, July 20, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — A new report by RMI India and RMI recommends ways to mainstream climate resilience into the electricity sector. The report, titled Powering Through: A Climate Resilient Future – Recommendations for the Indian Power Sector, highlights the importance of reliable and secure power systems in the country.

Climate change-induced extreme weather events are increasing, and energy systems are feeling the impact. According to the Global Climate Risk Index, India is the seventh most climate-affected country in the world. It is increasingly facing rising heat stress, which is weakening the Himalayan glacial mass, affecting monsoon patterns, and contributing to higher incidence of droughts, storms, and floods.

To enhance the country’s ability to respond to such extreme weather events, the report seeks to:

  • Act as a primer on the concept and need for climate resilience in the power sector.
  • Outline key considerations in policy, operations, technology, and finance for a resilient power sector.
  • Highlight barriers in mainstreaming climate resilience into India’s power sector planning.
  • Suggest potential actions by stakeholder categories to accelerate power sector resilience.

Stressing on the need for a power-resilient future, Clay Stranger, Managing Director, RMI said, “The risks to the grid will no longer be confined to the power sector alone. It is bound to have a cascading effect, ultimately impacting multiple end-use sectors, including critical services, such as healthcare and food storage. It will also impact new clean technology solutions in sectors, such as transportation, which have traditionally had a supply chain shielded from risks to the power grid.”

Institutions and stakeholders need to start thinking about integrating climate resilience that goes beyond disaster risk response into systems such as the power sector.  

  • At the policy level, this will need iterative and adaptive power sector planning, collaborative work across ministries, departments, and sectors, and improved market design.  
  • At the operations level, this will need upgrading regulations, incorporating situational learnings by adopting a bottom-up approach.
  • In terms of technology, this will need a nimbler system facilitated by technical solutions such as flexibility, islanding capability and backup energy. It will also mean weatherising and grid hardening, especially at the distribution end, where poor design and construction standards continue to plague us. Need for more granular climate data to facilitate planning will become important.
  • At the finance level, this will need banks to familiarise themselves with clean energy, climate risks and resilience paradigms and innovate with financial instruments to prevent the risk of stranded assets.

“Resilience interventions may cost more but apart from safeguarding the power infrastructure against climate risks, they are bound to help avert routine repair, and maintenance costs, along with offering benefits such as system flexibility and enhanced quality of electricity supply. As such, work at the policy and planning level needs to be bolstered by financial institutions whose renewed understanding of clean energy and climate risks can facilitate experimentation and implementation of the right technology and management practices on both supply and demand sides,” explained Akshima Ghate, Principal, RMI India.

Stakeholders in the Indian power sector need to act on an accelerated timeline due to the socio-economic imperatives, ongoing energy transition, and the potential avoided costs of inaction.

This report highlights the need for stakeholders to assume appropriate roles and responsibilities to successfully mainstream resilience into power sector planning. The report can be accessed here: https://rmiindiastage.wpengine.com/insight/powering-through-a-climate-resilient-future/

About RMI India

RMI India is an independent think-and-do tank that works with diverse stakeholders. It takes inspiration from and collaborates with RMI, a 40-year-old nongovernmental organisation. RMI India’s mission is to accelerate India’s transition to a clean, prosperous, and inclusive energy future.

About RMI

RMI is an independent nonprofit founded in 1982 that transforms global energy systems through market-driven solutions to align with a 1.5°C future and secure a clean, prosperous, zero-carbon future for all. We work in the world’s most critical geographies and engage businesses, policymakers, communities, and NGOs to identify and scale up energy system interventions that will cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent by 2030. RMI has offices in Basalt and Boulder, Colorado; New York City; Oakland, California; Washington, D.C.; and Beijing.

More information about RMI India and RMI can be found at rmi-india.org and rmi.org

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