The U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has released a new study titled Pathways to Atmanirbhar Bharat, which outlines a plan for India to achieve energy independence by 2047. The study focuses on the country’s three most energy-intensive sectors: power, transport, and industry.
According to the study, achieving energy independence would generate significant economic, environmental, and energy benefits for India. These benefits include $2.5 trillion in consumer savings through 2047, reducing fossil fuel import expenditure by 90% or $240 billion per year by 2047, enhancing India’s industrial competitiveness globally, and enabling India to meet its net-zero commitment ahead of schedule.
The study notes that India’s energy infrastructure requires a $3 trillion investment in the coming decades, and prioritizing new cost-effective and clean energy assets is crucial for long-term financial sustainability. By focusing on clean energy, India could potentially save $1.8 trillion in energy costs over the next 26 years.
India is the third-largest energy consumer globally, and its energy demand is expected to quadruple in the coming decades due to rapid economic growth. The country currently imports 90% of its oil, 80% of its industrial coal, and 40% of its natural gas. The price and supply volatility of these imports in global energy markets have resulted in strain on India’s foreign exchange reserves, leading to economy-wide inflation.
The study shows that India’s energy independence pathway would involve the power sector installing more than 500 GW of non-fossil electricity generation capacity by 2030, a goal that the Indian government has already announced. The country would then aim for an 80% clean grid by 2040 and 90% by 2047. Additionally, nearly 100% of new vehicle sales could be electric by 2035.
The study also suggests that heavy industrial production could shift primarily to green hydrogen and electrification, with 90% of iron and steel, 90% of cement, and 100% of fertilizers produced in this way by 2047. The country could produce most of the estimated 2 million tons of lithium needed for manufacturing new electric vehicles and grid-scale battery storage systems domestically, thanks to newly discovered reserves.
Berkeley Lab scientists believe that India has a unique opportunity to leapfrog to a clean energy future, as the bulk of its energy infrastructure has yet to be built. The country’s growing energy demand offers a significant runway of fifteen years for existing fossil energy assets to transition to clean energy. However, this transition will be important to do in concert with the most affected communities, ensuring an equitable transition for the country’s workforce.
The energy transition will require significant policy support, including deployment mandates for clean technologies, financial and policy support for emerging technologies such as green hydrogen, and investment in domestic manufacturing capacity. The study concludes that India will embark on an ambitious energy transition in the coming decades and that the transition runway provides time to strategically deploy clean technologies at scale and plan for a just transition.
The Berkeley Lab study was authored by scientists Amol Phadke, Nikit Abhyankar, Priyanka Mohanty, Nihar Shah, and Daniel Kammen. It demonstrates how deep cost reductions in clean technology and India’s renewable and lithium edge can enable a pathway for cost-effective energy independence by 2047.