India is on track to bring universal energy access to its population by 2030, according to the latest development report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The IEA is a Paris-based energy research organisation. Its annual World Energy Access report documents progress and best-practice for solving energy poverty.
The report estimates that half a billion Indians have gained access to electricity since 2000, largely due to the expansion of its fossil fuel generating capacity and grid network.
Over the past few years, India’s government has faced increasing criticism from Western green groups over its use of coal generation to drive its economic growth and its ambitious electrification targets.
In April India’s then Energy Minister, Piyush Goyal, reiterated that coal will “continue to remain our mainstay and there was no such agreement in Paris that will stop us from continuing to encourage coal-based generation of power”.
India has proven the effectiveness of this energy strategy, with the country set to be fully electrified by the mid-2020s.
This approach shows other developing countries what’s possible, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa where 600 million are predicted to remain without electricity, even by 2030.
For the world’s poorest countries, a pragmatic energy mix is essential, but the benefits are enormous. The World Bank estimates that delivering electricity to those living in energy poverty would create 1.5 trillion additional productive hours, save $28 billion in energy expenditures, and enable nearly 300 million school-aged children to study longer.
India has shown the world that leaps in development rely on a foundation of reliable and affordable electricity.