Energy supply is critical to how much economic growth India can achieve by 2050

Nuclear energy must be a significant part of the mix if India is to grow electricity supply by 625% to meet development goals, former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission Anil Kakodkar.

The average per capita electricity production in an industrially advanced nation is at around 10,000 kWh, whereas in India it is at around 800 kWh per person. An increase of at least 625% in electricity production, to 5000 kWh per capita, would be needed for India to maintain its economic growth. India’s population is projected to be about 1.6 to 1.7 billion in 2050. If we use 1.6 billion then total electricity demand would be 8000 TWh. India wants 8-9% GDP per capita growth. The challenges to build out power production and the electrical grid for 4.9% or even 6.3% GDP growth (the IEA projections) would also be challenging. The baseline projection would be to have the energy mix mostly come from coal (just like China’s energy mix to this point). Nextbigfuture believes that India will be challenged to achieve 5-6% GDP growth to 2050. It seems like the hope for sustained 8-9% GDP growth is not realistic barring massive shifts in governance and ability to execute or radical shift in a global technology that enables faster economic growth for the world.

An IEA analysis for India indicates that electricity demand can be limited to 3 700 TWh in 2050. This would allow for the projected annual increase of 4.9% in gross domestic product (GDP) and 0.8% in population, and access to electricity for all. This demand can be met with a capacity of 748GW, which implies an expansion by 580GW compared to the installed capacity in 2007/08. In a strong growth case, which is based on an average annual GDP growth rate of 6.3% between 2007 and 2050,the total capacity requirement in 2050 increases to 1277GW.

The strong growth case finds that nuclear capacity would have to increase by a factor of 50, and hydro capacity by a factor of four. Solar capacity would have to reach 370GW by 2050 compared to 191GW in the BLUE Map Scenario and just 13 MW in 2010.

The Indian projections of the GDP level in 2050 are more than twice as high as the IEA projections. CEA projections for the average annual growth rate in GDP for the 2005‐30 period are about two percentage points higher than the IEA projection (8% per year for CEA vs. about 6% for IEA). For the 2030‐50 period, the difference in projected growth rates increases to 2.5 percentage points(5.8% for CEA and about 3.3% for IEA).

the Baseline mix would be to expect a dependence on coal power. A greener solution is to have more nuclear power and more renewables. There are limitations based on the IEA expectations on renewables to supply the needed demand profile and other economic and geographic factors.