India to drive global energy demand while cutting emissions: Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he addresses his supporters during an election campaign meeting ahead of state assembly election in Dehri, eastern state of Bihar, India, October 23, 2020. REUTERS/Stringer

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India will be the major driver of global energy demand in the years to come, but will hold down carbon emissions even as its power consumption soars, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday.

The world’s third biggest oil importer has implemented a series of reforms in recent years, including setting up a gas trading exchange and granting marketing freedom to producers, to boost its local output.

“India is set to nearly double its energy consumption over the long term,” Modi said in the inaugural address at the conference India Energy Forum by CERAWeek.

He said even international agencies that project a contraction in global energy demand to continue for next few years expect Indian demand to rise.

“Our energy sector will be growth-centric, industry friendly and environment conscious... We are well on track to meet the commitment we made to the global community,” he said.

“India’s Energy Plan aims to ensure energy justice. That too while fully following our global commitments for sustainable growth. This means more energy to improve the lives of Indians. But, with a smaller carbon foot-print.”

To cut its carbon emissions India aims to raise the share of natural gas in its energy mix to 15% by 2030 from the current 6.2% and lift its renewable energy generation to 175 gigawatts by 2022 and to 450 gigawatts by 2030.

India is set to raise its annual refining capacity from 250 million tonnes to 400 million tonnes by 2025, while Indian airlines are projected to double their fleet size to 1200 by 2024, Modi said.

The South Asian nation, which depend on overseas purchases for about 80% of its oil needs, is seeking mechanisms for the responsible pricing of crude oil and greater transparency and flexibility in oil and gas markets to end volatility.

Reporting by Nidhi Verma and Sudarshan Varadhan; Editing by Catherine Evans and Jan Harvey