By MARTIN R. KELLY and TIMOTHY P. COLEMAN NYT • 10:31 a.m.
IST A sound bang will be followed by a huge wave of electricity generation, which will be delivered to cities and towns across the country by electric buses.
The boom in electricity generation is part of a wider trend that has seen the use of renewable energy as a major part of India’s plan to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
The country has been grappling with a severe shortage of electricity for years, with the country struggling to get enough fuel to run its power plants.
Electric buses have been on the march, as well.
The government launched a pilot project in the last year to test a fleet of 500 buses in cities and villages.
In the pilot, the government expects to deploy about 10,000 of these buses by 2021, and by 2025 it expects to be able to deploy 20,000 buses.
As a result, India’s transportation system will become much more efficient.
By 2030, India expects to have 50 percent of the world’s electricity needs met by electricity buses, according to the government.
“I don’t think it is too late for the country to do something big,” said Ramakrishnan K. Sinha, chief executive of Reliance Jio, a group that owns and operates over 100 percent of India, including the country’s biggest telecommunications company, Reliance Communications.
“We have a very good infrastructure, we have a good power system, and I believe we will be able deliver our goals in 20 years.”
A pilot program for electric buses is expected to take a decade to complete, but a key reason for the pilot is that it will be easier to deploy in larger cities, which are not in a rush to get electric buses, said Amit Agarwal, head of electric bus project at the National Renewable Energy Agency.
Mr. Agarwat said the pilot will be an important step to ensure the country gets the necessary amount of electricity, in a cost-effective way.
Says K. Venkatraman, the head of power market research at McKinsey & Company: “It’s an exciting start, but I think it will take a while for it to work out.
It’s going to take time for all the stakeholders to see that it is the right thing to do.”
The government hopes that electric buses will provide a new model of transport, allowing cities to move faster.
The pilot project is expected with the help of a $10 billion loan from the government, and the government has also offered to help banks set up electric buses and other infrastructure.
While the initial pilot program is being done to test the feasibility of electric buses in larger, more populated cities, the company hopes to be ready to offer them to smaller cities and small towns.
In the next few years, the bus fleet will grow from 5,000 to 20,00 buses, and then gradually move up to 50,000 electric buses by 2020, said Mr. Sinh.
If successful, the program will allow the government to move beyond its current energy strategy, which involves using fossil fuels to generate electricity.
The country will also see an increase in investments in renewable energy, Mr. Agkarwal said.
One of the major challenges facing India’s transport system is that India is a poor country.
About 70 percent of its population is under the age of 15.
In India, the average household electricity consumption is around 20 kilowatt hours a day, or about 2,000 kilowatts, compared to about 1,500 kilowats for the U.S.