Union Power Secretary Alok Kumar on Thursday stressed on the need to have strategic fuel reserves to insulate the nation from supply shocks for at least a month, in the backdrop of the ongoing coal shortage at power plants in the country.
Addressing the South Asia Power Summit Moving Towards Sustainable Energy Security', organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Kumar said the higher price of coal, especially imported, was the main reason for this coal crisis in the country.
His comments assume significance in view of ongoing coal shortage at power plants in the country.
Kumar said, "we are reading in the media about (power) supply disruption because of very very high prices of coal... I was talking about the very very high price of coal, gas and oil and the supply disruptions which may be in China, Singapore, the UK, Europe everywhere."
He said at least in the foreseeable ten years or more, all the countries, especially major economies, will be dependent on fossil fuel supplies for base load and for grid balancing.
He further said, "we would never be able to insulate ourselves from these supply shocks of the imported fuel. We have 17,000 MW capacity based on imported coal and if imported coal prices go high... that capacity is out.. India has 24,000 MW of gas power plants. They are also virtually out. So, the high prices will make energy security very challenging if we don't have a well thought out strategy."
He stated, "I was thinking that in many areas countries have started keeping strategic reserves because when it comes to crunch every country will meet its need first."
He cited the example of Russia, which curtailed gas supply to Europe because it wanted more gas to be consumed within the country.
He said, "Let us start thinking about keeping strategic reserves of these fuels (coal, gas, oil) so that economies are able to adjust and tide over these supply shortfall for about a month or so. That would be a small cost vis-a-vis the cost of disruption and uncertainty which these countries face."
Talking about cyber security he said, "we are doing a lot of efforts at national level (central government). But when we talk to utilities at the state level, I find that the preparedness and awareness about cyber security is very very minimal. It is abysmally low. So, all the countries in South Asia should enhance our preparedness about cybersecurity."
He talked about major disruption in the energy supply in the US and other countries because of cyber-attacks.
He informed that India wants to increase the share of electricity in the energy basket from 18 per cent to 28 per cent by the end of this decade.
He was of the view that fuel supply and cybersecurity are short-term goals for next two to three years for us (South Asia nations) but the real relief will come with the increase in penetration of renewable energy.
He also spoke about the transnational grid for solar energy as the sun always shines in some part of the world at any point of time.
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