Mohua Mukherjee

Senior Research Fellow

Mohua Mukherjee has worked as a senior development economics professional and team leader for over twenty-five years at the World Bank headquarters in Washington DC. Her most recent work has centred on financial issues related to renewable energy, energy access, distribution utility reform, and energy policy, apart from serving as the Program Manager of a $3 million donor trust fund for India and Nepal on renewable energy.

Mohua was responsible for leading the World Bank’s US$1 billion Solar Energy Program in India. She served as India Energy Head, looking after both the solar program as well as the distribution utility reform program, as well as the Green Energy Corridor construction (of new extra high voltage transmission lines to evacuate solar energy from remote, large utility scale solar parks). Mohua led all the World Bank’s energy policy dialogue with the Government of India from mid-2014 to end-2016.

Apart from energy, she has led World Bank projects in urban water supply, agricultural value chains, public sector debt management and macroeconomics, microfinance, microenterprise development, export promotion/trade facilitation, telecom sector, toll roads and other public-private participation, as well as health and education. Her policy dialogue and public investment project formulation experience spans 44 countries.

Apart from the World Bank, Mohua has worked as the Vice President of Corporate Finance at two international investment banks in Nairobi, Kenya (while on a three-year sabbatical from the World Bank).

She took an early retirement from the World Bank in 2017 and moved to India, where she initially served as a Program Ambassador of the International Solar Alliance from 2017-2019. She has subsequently spoken at many conferences and diverse training events, including most recently, the Center for Advanced Financial Research and Learning (CAFRAL), of the Reserve Bank of India. She also consults regularly for the World Bank in Washington DC, and offers pro-bono advisory services to solar mini-grid developers on structured finance. Mohua is also an Independent Director on two corporate boards, and is formally registered as such with the Indian Ministry of Corporate Affairs.

On February 1st, 2022 Mohua joined the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies as a Senior Research Fellow.

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                    [post_content] => Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues to strongly impact international energy markets, posing severe challenges for energy importing countries. Much of the commentary and analysis has been focused on the consequences for, and reactions of, European nations and the European Union. Despite the fact that each region has its own specific dynamics, the global nature of energy markets means that the effects of the conflict in Ukraine are felt around the world, and Asia is no exception.

Most countries in Asia are net importers of fossil energy. International prices of crude oil and LNG were already rising in the later months of 2021, but the war in Ukraine accentuated this rise. While Asian buyers have been picking up discounted cargoes of oil and coal, there have been new costs and complications as energy, food, and other supply chain flows are adapting to sanctions.

The immediate impact of these high energy prices and supply chain disruptions is seen in rising costs across many sectors – whose supply chains were barely recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. The disruption of grain supplies from Ukraine and Russia has had particularly severe consequences for food prices, posing serious challenges for governments and peoples. Not only could this distract from the need to address climate change, but the growing frequency of extreme weather events may accentuate existing poverty and inequality.

These phenomena provide the context within which this commentary examines the impacts of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Asian energy markets, focusing on the direct exposure of Asian countries to Russian energy exports, as well as on the direct and indirect impacts of the short-term price increases. 
                    [post_title] => Asian Energy Markets Following the Russian Invasion of Ukraine
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                    [post_content] => Around 99 per cent of vehicles running on India’s roads are powered by internal combustion engines running on fossil fuels (petrol, diesel, and some CNG). The passenger car is still a largely aspirational product for around one hundred million newly middle-class Indians (20 million families). Given the current, still very low per capita car ownership in India of 22 per 1,000 citizens, compared to 980 in the US and 850 in the UK, it is an opportune time for India to embrace alternative sustainable mobility solutions for a green and prosperous future. This can only succeed if accessible and affordable solutions are available in adequate numbers. Also, given the segmented nature of the market and the different dynamics within each segment, government support could be better targeted. This effort has already started with the proposed interoperable and standardized light-vehicle battery, to promote greater affordability in the battery-swapping segment. Also, government incentives for increased localization of battery assembly, and eventually cell manufacturing, as well as continued public support for R&D to explore alternative battery chemistries, will all help to reduce costs.

The real challenge for India lies in E2Ws and E3Ws, used by nearly 1 billion people in the country every day. Converting these vehicles to electric, making them affordable and convenient, and doing what it takes to turn E2Ws and E3Ws into the first preference over ICE vehicles when making a purchase decision, is what India should be supported and measured on. In India, the adoption of e-mobility through the individual purchase of EVs is not likely to happen very fast in the mass segment of the market, (180 million families or 900 million people) even for 2Ws with leased batteries, selling at a price point today of under $1,000. It is likely to require a few more years until battery prices come down to around half of what they are today. The important lesson for EV market players in India is that the cash flow patterns of the mass market segment, such as for example a delivery driver’s daily or monthly income, do not allow the owner to pay the $800 battery cost upfront in addition to buying the body of the EV for another $800. Even the battery leasing option, amounting to an estimated $87 per month for a gig worker, is a financial stretch. This is extremely important in a low-income consumer market where high-cost products such as lithium-ion EV batteries are supposed to be adopted by consumers who are struggling financially. Despite the billions that the government has set aside to lower the upfront cost of entry, it appears that the product may still be out of reach for most of the budget market, until the battery costs and battery leasing costs fall further. India’s ongoing attempts to standardize a subset of swappable batteries for the light-vehicle segment, to make them interoperable across multiple vehicle brands, are likely to increase affordability and create market confidence, as one type of battery becomes ‘commoditized’.
                    [post_title] => India’s Mass-Market Clean Mobility Initiatives and its Unique, Customized Business Models for Light Electric Vehicles
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                    [post_content] => India has been implementing climate actions since 2001, when it was one of very few countries to pass an Energy Conservation Act, followed by an industrial emissions trading scheme to force large manufacturing companies to become more energy efficient. A National Action Plan for Climate Change (NAPCC) was passed in 2008, and included relatively modest solar energy targets (20 GW by 2022) along with seven other action areas. Prime Minister Modi, who took office in 2014, brought new momentum to the solar energy sector by raising ambition five-fold. Overnight, the original National Solar Mission target of 20 GW was increased to 100 GW. This ratcheting up of the target was to become the norm. India’s growing renewable energy (RE) investment has been underpinned by consistently increasing the level of ambition announced to private investors, domestic and foreign. Progress on the ground has been remarkable, despite the last two years being disrupted by Covid 19-related restrictions. Installed solar PV capacity since 2014 has grown to 50 GW by February 2022, of which 43 GW are ground mounted and 7 GW are grid-connected rooftop PV.  Overall installed renewables (solar, wind and biomass) stand at just over 100 GW. If large hydro is included, the currently installed total capacity rises to 150.9 GW. Around 53 GW of renewable investments are currently at various stages of preparation, contract award or construction. Current milestone targets call for 175 GW of renewables by 2022, and 500 GW by 2030, on the way to net zero in 2070. Today India has the world’s fourth largest installed capacity of renewable energy and the fifth largest installed capacity of solar PV. In 2021, Solar PV accounted for 62% of new capacity addition, which was the largest share of capacity ever in India. Renewables overall accounted for 77% of new capacity addition in 2021. Apart from renewable energy capacity expansion, a number of landmark achievements have also taken place on the energy efficiency front, and these are presented in detail in the paper. In terms of the big picture, this paper also lays out and examines the conundrum facing India, in terms of the scope of the challenge and the balancing act it is trying to follow between meeting economic development goals and climate goals. Given its stage of development, India still has a huge unfinished economic growth and poverty alleviation agenda as it also simultaneously tackles the climate agenda, using its own budgetary resources. If India is able to find a pathway that succeeds in balancing all of the above, and meeting both Sustainable Development Goals and Climate Action Goals, then not only India, but the entire world, will be better off. What happens in India, doesn’t stay only in India because India moves the global needle on climate action.
                    [post_title] => India’s Progress on its Climate Action Plan - An Update in Early 2022
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As the world’s third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, India has pledged to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2070. The electricity sector is at the forefront of decarbonisation initiatives and distributed energy resources (DERs) are expected to play a key role in enabling the country to eventually transition away from fossil fuel power generation (especially coal). DERs are physical or virtual assets that are located close to demand across the distribution grid, and can provide value to the power system, individual customers, or both. As the share of traditional flexible fossil fuel generation declines in the power mix, distributed generation, energy storage, and demand response will become important sources of system flexibility. Specifically, the rise of EVs (electric vehicles) and of electricity demand for cooling services provide significant opportunities for decentralized flexibility. However, the Indian power sector requires a range of reforms to bring it into line with the rise of the decentralization paradigm. These include in the areas of market architecture, coordination between transmission and distribution network operators, reforming the distribution sector and rationalisation of retail tariffs.

In terms of market architecture, the country needs to move towards a two-sided market in which both supply-side and demand-side resources can participate. This requires removing barriers to the entry of aggregators, investment in ICT infrastructure and distribution grid modernization, and the establishment of liquid short-term electricity markets, local flexibility markets, and ancillary service markets. Also, a more effective coordination mechanism between transmission and distribution network operators is needed to improve visibility and control over DERs and enable a better utilization of these resources for both local grid congestion management as well as national grid balancing. The more complex issues, however, lie in the distribution sector. The current scope of distribution licensees’ operation includes both network and retailing, which means that the state distribution companies (Discoms) will not benefit from customer-owned DERs; they thus have an incentive to resist their uptake. The State Discoms are also in poor financial health due to a range of factors such as poor management, non-cost reflective retail tariffs, and a high level of AT&C (aggregated technical and commercial) energy losses. This prevents them from investing in grid modernization and digitalization. Finally, retail tariffs in India are lower than the actual costs of supply for residential consumers; this makes investment in DERs uneconomic for this class of customers, whereas a higher rate incentivizes grid defection among C&I (commercial and industrial) customers, with consequences for the revenues of distribution utilities.

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Latest Publications by Mohua Mukherjee