"India's Energy and Energy R&D Landscape: A Brief Overview"
Discussion Paper 2002-08, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Author: Ambuj D. Sagar, Associate, Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program
The main challenge facing India's energy sector is to increase and improve the delivery of energy services to various sections of the citizenry and the economy in an environmentally and socially acceptable manner. New and improved technologies will play a central role in meeting this challenge and from a long-term perspective, it will be in India's benefit to strengthen the technological capabilities that can help it meet its energy and environmental goals. This is the motivation for this examination of the status of the country's energy technology research and development (ER&D) efforts. Indian ER&D institutions and their activities are characterized by the dominance of the public sector in most areas, although some private firms also have sizable R&D efforts. The size (in absolute terms) and intensity (R&D normalized by sales) of ER&D efforts across the board are much smaller than in industrialized countries. There is also a remarkable imbalance between the pattern of energy supply/use and of ER&D spending: for example, biomass and coal, the mainstays of the Indian energy system, receive disproportionately little attention. While the government has been preoccupied with reforming the energy sector, the historical lack of focus on ER&D (that partly results from the division of various aspects of energy amongst various ministries) has continued in recent years. The lack of policy attention to this issue also results in the absence of any strategic plan for technology development in relation to the challenges facing India's energy sector. Given all this, a substantial and concerted effort will be required to appropriately reorient and strengthen India's ER&D capabilities to meet the energy and environmental challenges facing the country.
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