Energy transition: Urge and Necessity
Electricity Transition in Nepal
The full stop to the corona pandemic will bring up a new wave of energy transformation throughout the world. Excessive use of non renewable energy has been creating big turmoil in the environment and the public health, and the speed is now at halt at least for some time due to this pandemic. But, when the entire world gets back to their original space, the environment will have a serious threat of being degraded as the industries, factories, vehicles and other stuff that creates smoke will be resumed. If lessons are learnt from this pandemic, then the entire world might have grasped the message that the world should shift their focus in protecting the environment, combating climate change, and strengthening public health. For that, energy transition is the way through to pass this chaos and trigger sustainable development.
Clean energy policy must be adopted by all the countries in the world. Not that the direct cause of this pandemic is due to the excessive use of non renewable sources of energy, and colossal industrialization, but the thing is that the excessive use of fossil fuel, coal and other petroleum products has been a disaster to the environment one way or another. Economic activity is advantaged with the use of such resources where the actual impact of such resources is always neglected. Excessive emission of CO2 is the product of economic practices without having a proper regulatory framework. It’s high time that the world should diligently opt for the strategy and framework for the energy transition noting that the non renewable sources of energy can end anytime. Many countries have already taken the clean energy policy marching one step further in mitigating environmental upheaval. To meet the ultimate goal of the Paris Agreement ( 2016), the rapid switch in the consumption pattern of energy is indispensable. But, the transformation from non renewable source to the renewable source of energy will not come at the easy cost.
The process has to go through and collide with different economic disruption. Countries under the agreement of OPEC and OPEC+ might face disturbance in their respective economies in the phase of energy transition. Since the countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and Kuwait are amongst member countries under said agreement, they might not easily lose their grip in the name of energy transition. Adapting the clean energy policy means that the gulf countries are urged to come up with concrete strategies to retaliate the economic loss and sustain the economy firmly during the transition as their large portion of the economy is reliant on oil production. In the next ten years, demand for energy will sky rocket as the industrialization and the hunger for the huge economic prosperity will drive countries to demand and consume more energy. For that, the existing pattern of energy consumption cannot meet the demand so the search for a new energy consumption pattern will be highly considered. Laws and policies are as such development projects are only initiated fulfilling the prerequisites of sustainability and environmental protection, which in future is speculated to bring more rigid laws and regulations.
The initial set up cost, infrastructures and the cost of the renewable source of energy is highly challenged now and will be challenged for the time being. More than one billion people in the world still lack access to energy , energy as in cooking fuel, electricity and transportation. And, the under developed country and the developing country forerunning in the race of being a prosperous country need more energy. The current capacity and production of energy sources might not be sufficient to fulfill the increasing demand for energy and also due to its uncertainty. This is why many environment experts, energy experts and economic experts are buzzing and urging to go greener. The responsiveness to this plea is often neglected, however some of the nations have taken this plea under serious consideration and are acting accordingly. Referring to the report by the World Economic Forum, Sweden tops the list in the energy transition index. Likewise, countries like Norway, Switzerland, Finland, Denmark etc are forerunner in opting the sustainable energy system and these countries have succeeded in doing it. Strong political commitment, effective environment friendly investment policies to attract investors, and above all the strong regulatory framework made it possible for these countries to construct sustainable energy systems.
To secure a sustainable, affordable and reliable energy future, first, the country should be responsive to the energy transition, second, a stable plan to adapt during and after the transition phase and third, effective economic policy to go parallel with energy transition is necessary since the energy transformation has more to do with the economy. Hydroelectricity is the existing durable form of renewable source of energy and the most suitable alternative for the world. Since, no harm is done to the environment, hydro electricity can meet the future demand for the energy. Besides, wind power and solar power are other similar alternatives to go for to combat the grave threat of global warming. Energy transition is not only to mitigate environmental hazards, but also to protect human health as nearly ten million people are dying due to outdoor and indoor air pollution annually while the number of people dying of water pollution is nearly growing rapidly. The ongoing pandemic has already flashed the current health system of the world, even the most developed countries’ public health system felt vulnerable. Another reason for the serious need of energy transition comes from the economic point of view. Environmental degradation and the symptoms of climate change has been showing disturbance and disruption in economic activity. So for an economy to sustain in the long run, the switch to renewable sources of energy is necessary.
Environmental policy and the efficacy of such policy is the strong determinant for economic growth especially from the future perspective. China, being the supply factory of the world is also the largest producer of Co2 gas due to the involvement in the massive production of goods and services. In recent years, China has taken the environmental havoc seriously and has been investing in the energy system. China’s investment mainly includes investment in the wind turbines and hydro power. Stat suggests that out of 4,25,000 electric buses, more than four lakhs electric buses are in China which shows the serious commitment of China to go greener. While on the other hand, the U.S.A, despite being the largest producer of oil and the strong economy, has not taken any significant steps to transform energy consumption patterns. Since energy transition also brings new energy laws and regulations which might invite difficult circumstances for the foreign investors. So such energy policies and legislation should come in the light of suitable and desirable frameworks for foreign investors.
In the context of Nepal, Energy transition has to come out of necessity. Rich in water resources, Nepal has a huge prospect of hydro electricity that can minimize the energy dependency over India. Nepal imports petrol and diesel worth 2.5 Kharba from India yearly. Similarly, Nepal ranks over one of the polluted countries in the world. So the necessity to go into the energy transition opting for a renewable source of energy is high, and worth concerning. However, the government’s recent step to impose 80% custom tax on electric vehicles has disappointed everyone and can be sensed as one step backward in adopting a sustainable energy system. Nevertheless, the post pandemic period will surely move the strings of energy transition movement and get positive results.
Author Bishal Bajgain is Law student at Kathmandu University School of Law, Dhulikhel.
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