From RPOs to PDOs: Time to think of Power Decarbonisation Obligations for discoms

The Paris agreement aims to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2oC above pre- industrial levels, and further limit the increase to 1.5oC, to reduce risks and impact of climate change (Article 2 of Paris Agreement).

Further, with the new IEA-prescribed scenario to phase out fossil fuels to achieve the 1.5oC target suggesting that the power sector achieves net zero by 2040 globally, pressure on countries to develop long term deep decarbonisation plans, with the ultimate goal of net zero emissions by the earliest possible year, would grow.

An issue that appears top-priority is power-sector decarbonisation “in all the countries.” To put this in context, the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from India’s electricity generation stood at 958 Mt Co2e, constituting 51% of the total GHG emissions from the energy sector and approximately 40% of India’s total GHG emissions for 2015.

Against this backdrop, this article explores options for India’s march towards decarbonisation of the power sector.

Decarbonising the power sector would essentially entail maximising renewable power in the overall sourcing and use. Targets of 175 GW and 450GW have been announced. Given the structure of the Constitution, it is necessary to take the states into confidence and work out an acceptable solution.

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