It is not uncommon and recognised worldwide that access to energy is a crucial enabling condition for achieving sustainable development. Prudent energy policies and research can play an important role in steering both industrialised and developing countries onto more sustainable energy development paths. Specifically, they can strengthen the three pillars of sustainable development: the economy, by boosting productivity; social welfare, by improving living standards and enhancing safety and security; and the environment, by reducing indoor and outdoor pollution and remediating environmental degradation.
However, a key aspect which still needs further intervention and effort is awareness among the masses and policymakers about the ever increasing gap between the availability of conventional energy and the demand/scope of renewable energy. Hence, two major aspects that need to be further looked into are Demand Side Management (DSM) and scope of Renewable Energy (RE).
On the similar line, a diagnostic research project was getting implemented in two states of India, i.e. Gujarat and West Bengal to build the capacity of civil society organisations (CSOs) to demand for DSM and RE. The project is being implemented by CUTS International and VIKSAT in Gujarat which is funded by Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation (SSEF), New Delhi and Climate Works Foundation, US.
The project was launched in Gujarat at VIKSAT Campus, Ahmedabad on August 06, 2011. The workshop was attended by more than 60 participants comprising policymakers, regulatory bodies, utilities, scientists, research institutions, practioners, entrepreneurs, media, students and most importantly CSOs.
The workshop had two panel discussions focusing on “Nature and Scope of CSO intervention in the context of RE and DSM” and “Successful interventions by stakeholders in the Energy Sector in India” in which eminent speakers shared their experiences and research outcomes.
Kartikeya Sarabhai, Managing Trustee, Nehru Foundation for Development stated education plays a vital role in DSM. He cited various examples. While comparing excessive water usage in textile industries of Ahmedabad to Bombay he said that management of demand has to come from within than being managed by external components. Quoting Gandhi, he shared how the world has moved far ahead and at the same time there are enough people left out from the domain of development.
Ketan Shukla, Secretary, Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission, focused on how DSM concept in Gujarat can be very successful. He also focused on the depletion of non renewable sources of energy and how renewable energy can play an important role in future. He ended with a note of “ENJOY GIVING NOT CONSUMING”.
Udai Mehta, National Co-ordinator and Assistant Director, CUTS while providing a brief introduction of the organisation also shared the details of the project.
The Chief Guest was S K Nanda IAS, Principal Secretary, Department of Forest and Environment, Government of Gujarat. He shared the experience of how energy and environment are inter-related. Although we are growing very fast, every growth cannot be termed as development.