Even as the Centre makes an aggressive push for electric vehicles, Union petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Friday said the country is ready to switch to clean and affordable fuels. The minister said that with gas distribution in cities gathering momentum, investments to the tune of $75 billion are expected in the space over the next 8 years.
Addressing a Bloomberg summit in Delhi, Pradhan said India would promote EVs, but it would be through a “holistic and integrated” approach and all forms of transport, which are clean and affordable, would be considered in the energy policy. On Friday, a Bloomberg forecast said that India is likely to be the fourth largest EV market by 2040 – after China, the United States and Germany – with sales expected to touch around 2.6 million by then. However, India sales are estimated to be only around 0.4 million by 2030.
Pradhan said the country’s energy sector is attractive for foreign investors. “It has repeatedly received funding from sovereign wealth funds, pension funds, long-term strategic investors from the western countries, Asian countries and the Middle East,” he said.
The statement comes at a time when few sovereign funds, including Norway's State Pension Fund, have decided not to invest in fossil fuel-based projects. He added that many companies have successfully raised funding in the overseas bond market and this funding route is likely to grow manifold going forward, with the economy projected to grow at over 7 per cent.
The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), a scheme for providing free cooking gas connections to the poor, has already touched 75 million people. This has resulted in enhancing liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) penetration in India to around 95 per cent as against 56 per cent in May 2014.
“When we assumed power in 2014, only 20 per cent of the population was covered under the city gas network. However, with the success of the 10th CGD Bid Round, CGD network will expand to nearly 70 per cent of our population,” he added. CGD would be available in 228 geographical areas comprising 402 districts and spread over 27 states and union territories, covering 53 per cent of the country.
Pradhan said the move would create compressed natural gas (CNG) corridors, which could then be used for long distance transportation. Based on targets provided by industry sources, at the end of 8 years, around 40 million households would be connected with piped natural gas (PNG) compared to 2.5 million in 2014. “The recently-concluded 9th and 10th CGD rounds will require investment of Rs 1.2 trillion,” he added.
Pradhan said that the refineries in India have already invested around Rs 30,000 crore to upgrade themselves for BS-VI quality fuel production and supply from April 2020 in the entire country.