Energy use in Indian cities - A case for district energy systems

By District Energy posted 01-21-2019 00:00


Ameya Pimpalkhare, Observer Research Foundation


A recent report from Oxford Economics stated that 17 among the top 20 fastest growing cities in the world are based in India. Surat tops the list of top 10 cities estimated to grow at the fastest pace in the world between 2019 and 2035, followed by Agra and Bengaluru. Other cities in the list are Hyderabad, Nagpur, Tirupur, Rajkot, Tiruchirapalli, Chennai and Vijayawada. As per the 2011 census, 31 percent of India is urbanised and this figure is expected to touch 60 percent by 2050. India’s urban population is expected to grow from 410 million in 2014 to 814 million by 2050. These people will be setting up their lives starting from a low base of development demanding modern fuels for lighting and cooking, appliances, heating and cooling, vehicles, etc. for an improved quality of life. There will be multiple commercial and residential hubs cropping up in all of these expanding cities of India. As per India Energy Security Scenarios 2047, for a ‘Determined Effort Scenario’, India’s energy demand in 2047 will be close to 1,500 million tonne of oil equivalent.

Cities and energy use

An uninterrupted energy supply will be a key component in increasing the GDP of these Indian cities. Cities account for more than 70 percent of global energy use and for 40 to 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Handling this urban evolution is a challenge and countries need to address the energy and climate implications it will entail. India has to yet define the development pathways for these complex energy service demands and, hence, this sector provides the opportunity to better plan for the future. The network of energy provision for residential and commercial buildings, mobility, public built spaces and other urban arrangements are going to be long lasting investments of the Indian economy. Currently, space heating and cooling and hot water supply itself are estimated to account for roughly half of global energy consumption in buildings.

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