Narasimhan Santhanam, Co-founder and Director – Energy Alternatives India
Why are you emphasizing (in your D2R Movement) only on diesel while ignoring other fossil fuels like petrol and kerosene?
Well, we are specifically emphasising diesel for power to renewables for power. This is because diesel for power production is far more costly than renewables for power production and the renewable technologies for power production are also fast maturing.
While there is potential for fossil transportation fuels to be replaced by renewable fuels too (biofuels or electric vehicles), the economic feasibility of these renewable sources for transportation are not yet advantageous.
There is a talk of levying extra duty on diesel driven cars to discourage this fuel in motor cars? Do you think such move will be effective?
Definitely. The only reason people shift to diesel vehicles from petrol vehicles is owing to the cost differential, if this is removed, the shift to diesel will be reduced as well.
Do you think by de-regulating diesel price and directly linking it to international price will moderate the consumption of diesel in the country?
Price is the best way to induce sustainability as well as enhancing the viability of renewable energy/fuel sources. So, deregulation, while it hurts all of us in the short term, will be the best thing that happened from a sustainable fuel ecology viewpoint.
Do you think there are enough incentives for investors to move towards Renewables? If no, what measures do you suggest?
Renewables is a wide area – comprises renewable power, renewable heat/cold and renewable transport fuel. There are sub-divisions within each of these as well. So, it is difficult to give one answer whether there are enough incentives. For some sectors (such as solar) there are enough incentives, while for renewable transport fuel or renewable heat/cold, there are hardly any incentives.
Financial incentives, while they increase the burden on the taxpayer, has been seen to be the best incentive overall. Regulatory incentives such as mandates could be the next best, but in countries like India, mandates have rarely been implemented, so I would consider them a poor second to financial incentives. Financial incentives could take the form of feed-in-tariffs, capital subsidies and (hopefully) priority sector lending rates.
Do you think a system similar to Carbon Credits can help the people to move towards Renewables from fossil fuels like diesel?
Tough to say. Carbon credits are effective because they are applied at a B2B level, a more organized and concentrated sector. Diesel, to the extent it is used by institutions and industry, can definitely benefit from the extension of carbon credits to dissuade its use. But carbon credits for the retail and individual sector has not been applied anywhere on a large scale, so it is unlikely such a system would work for the ordinary you and me to cut our consumption of diesel