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Energy efficiency is the "lowest hanging fruit" for India: Danish Ambassador to India

May 28, 2024

NEW DELHI, 28 May 2024: Addressing the Stakeholders Roundtable Discussion on Accelerating Green Economy in India, organised by FICCI’s Resource Conservation & Management (RCM) and the Global Green Growth Institute, H.E. Mr Freddy Svane, Ambassador of the Royal Danish Embassy in New Delhi, identified energy efficiency as India’s "lowest hanging fruit". 


Drawing parallels to Denmark's journey, Ambassador Svane recounted how his nation, despite its small size, transformed from entirely dependent on imported fossil fuels to becoming a global leader in renewable energy. "More than 75% of all electricity consumed in my country comes from green, renewable energy resources," he revealed, emphasising that economic growth can be achieved while decoupling it from energy demand. He added, “We have doubled, almost tripled our economy without really expanding the energy consumption. So, the key here is energy efficiency.”


The Ambassador stressed that Denmark's approach is to inspire. "Our attitude is more to be a source of inspiration. We would like to tell you this is what we have done. Please look into it.” Central to this collaborative spirit is the Green Strategic Partnership, an initiative launched by Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi and his Danish counterpart, Mr Mette Frederiksen. The partnership focuses on five key areas: scale, skills, speed, social development goals, and sustainability.


Mr SP Garnaik, Country Representative for India and Asia Regional Lead (Energy Efficiency) at the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), stressed the importance of energy efficiency and green financing in India's clean economy transition.


Garnaik highlighted the challenge of balancing India's economic growth, which relies on increased energy consumption, with the urgent need to mitigate the impact of climate change.


Citing the G20 Leaders' Summit's call for doubling the rate of energy efficiency, Garnaik commended India's progress in reducing its energy intensity by 0.7-1% annually from 2015 to 2020. He attributed this success to mandatory programs like the Standards and Labeling programme, the Energy Efficiency Appliance program, and the Perform, Achieve and Trade (PAT) programme.


Emphasising India's vast market potential for energy efficiency, estimated at $90 billion by 2030, Garnaik stressed the need for innovative financing mechanisms. He suggested linking green projects to thematic bonds like green bonds, citing examples of REC, PFC, and Indore Municipality raising funds through this route.


Garnaik revealed that GGGI is providing the Government of Odisha with technical assistance worth $1 million to support the preparation of the DPR, pre-feasibility study, and bid advisory, among other things.


On occasion, Dr Anupam Prakash, Advisor, Monetary Policy Department, Reserve Bank of India (RBI), underlined improving energy efficiency across sectors, reducing the direct use of fossil fuels, and shifting to renewables and other clean sources of energy as crucial for achieving net zero by 2070.


Mr. Rajnath Ram, Advisor (Energy), NITI Aayog, underscored the significant increase in energy demand expected to accompany India's economic growth. "Our energy demand is likely to grow almost three times as of now," he stated, emphasising the dual challenge of meeting the country's energy needs affordably and sustainably.


Despite India's low historical carbon emissions compared to developed economies, Mr Ram commended the government's proactive measures towards decarbonisation, such as the updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) targets. However, he acknowledged the challenges in mobilising resources and providing affordable energy to the masses while transitioning away from the predominantly fossil-based energy mix.


He outlined several key levers for decarbonising the economy, with energy efficiency having the potential to decarbonise up to 50% of the economy and low cost financing will be the key game changer.


Decarbonising the power sector, which accounts for 42% of India's total greenhouse gas emissions, remains a critical challenge. Ram emphasised the role of renewable energy penetration, energy storage systems, and non-fossil alternatives like nuclear and hydropower in addressing this issue. He also discussed promoting alternative fuels, such as biofuels, and the need for resource mapping to maximise yields.


FICCI’s Resource Conservation & Management (RCM) presented to all participants including Industry Members about the services which they are offering in the areas of Decarbonization, Water Neutrality, Net Zero and Risk Resilience.