Solar panels in New Delhi, India

Why aren't energy PSUs at the forefront of India's energy transition?

By Balasubramanian Viswanathan, Prateek Aggarwal on October 1, 2021

This originally appeared as an op-ed in The Economic Times on September 28, 2021. The introductory paragraphs are reprinted below with permission.


In recent months, India’s biggest private sector players have made ambitious clean energy commitments. Reliance India Ltd announced clean technology investments worth Rs 75,000 crore; ArcelorMittal pledged Rs 19,000 crore for solar power; and Adani Green raised Rs 9,570 crore in debt financing. Backed by India’s billionaires, these announcements herald a new chapter of clean energy expansion in our country. But why aren’t our energy public sector undertakings (PSUs) also at the forefront of India's energy transition?

PSUs continue to play a vital role in India’s energy sector and the wider economy. Energy sector PSUs account for seven of India’s 10 Maharatnas — firms that have an annual turnover of more than Rs 25,000 crore. Over 50 per cent of the country’s power generation is publicly owned. Just two PSUs produce around 90 per cent of the country’s coal output. Publicly-owned oil marketing companies are responsible for 57 per cent of refining and almost all retail distribution. Since independence, these companies have been vehicles of nation-building, creating millions of jobs and generating revenue for the government. But as the world shifts away from fossil fuels, India’s energy majors, unfortunately, continue to invest in them.

Read the full article in The Economic Times.

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