Oxford Energy Podcast – The future of gas in India’s energy transition

In this OIES podcast, recorded just before the start of the COP26 summit, James Henderson talks to Anupama Sen, a Senior Research Fellow at OIES, Deputy Director of the Energy Transition Research Initiative and Executive Director of the Electricity Research Programme. They discuss the role of gas in India’s energy economy, and its transition strategy in relation to COP26. Although the gas sector has often been viewed with a lot of promise by policy and market commentators, with some Indian policymakers recently supporting a move to a “gas-based economy”, the sector has historically underperformed. Anupama argues that the carbon constraint on economic growth limits the room for gas’s role in India’s energy transition, and in sectors such as power, gas’s role is likely to be marginal in relation to renewables, in the absence of any policy disincentives to the use of coal. James and Anupama discuss the reasons for the wide range of scenarios for gas demand in India spanning from the wildly optimistic to the deeply pessimistic, which serve to underpin the uncertainty around gas’s role in the energy transition. There will continue to be some gas demand growth during the energy transition in ‘anchor’ sectors such as fertilizer production, hard-to-decarbonize industry, and city gas distribution which is being driven by a push to replace traditional biomass with LPG in rural areas, and LPG with piped natural gas in urban areas. James and Anupama discuss the constraints to this growth, including pricing, infrastructure, and the two-tiered structure of demand. They conclude by discussing India’s likely stance at COP26, including its recent focus on the issue of apportionment of the remaining global ‘carbon budget’ among countries, and on technology and finance transfers.