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Last updated: March 19, 2013 at 14:15 pm

India’s Energy Consumption: 4th Largest in the World

Although India’s per capita energy consumption is one of the lowest (and much lower than developed countries) India still ranks 4th largest energy consuming nation in the world according to the latest report released by U.S Energy Information & Administration. United States is the biggest Energy Consumer followed by China and Russia.

India’s energy consumption has more than doubled since 1990 and although India has one of the highest amounts of coal reserves, she is heavily dependent on imported crude oil. Coal currently accounts for nearly 41 percent of energy produced in India.

Coal consumption

Oil & Petroleum Products

According to EIA report, India is also fourth largest consumer of oil and petroleum products after U.S, China and Japan. Over last decade, India’s Oil consumption has grown much more than what is produces and hence it has to rely heavily on Oil imports. India is also fourth the largest importer of oil and petroleum products.

In 1990, 40 percent of the Oil demand was met via imports; but in last 2 decades the import percentage has rise to over 70 percent of the demand.production and consumption

India imports about 63 percent of its crude oil from Middle eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Iraq etc. while Americas account for 18 percent crude oil imports followed by Africa (17 percent).

Natural Gas

India’s Natural gas consumption (LNG) has also increased drastically over the years. Till 2004, India produced enough natural gas to meet the demand, however since then it has relied on imports from countries like Qatar to meet the local demand. In 2011, India became world’s sixth largest natural gas importer in the world.


India has 5th largest reserves of coal in the world, however, due to inefficiencies in this sector, the production is not able to meet the demand for coal. Due to increasing coal demand and inefficient production import for coal has grown by over 13 percent per year since 2001.


According to the IEA report, India had a installed electricity generating capacity of 211 Gigawatts as of Sept. 2012. However, due to insufficient fuel supplies (like Coal) of fuel, most parts of India have to suffer from shortage of electricity. Here are the various sources through which India produces its electricity.

installed power capacity

Energy Consumption Growth Rate

Energy Consumption Growth Rate

According to the EIA report, India will see maximum growth in energy consumption till 2035. It will be even more than compared to China and over 6 times more than United States and 5 times more than Russia. Though the growth rate will be highest, the overall energy consumption will still be much lower as compared to United States and China.

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  • There are some positive trends in energy sector and India can lead the pack if opportunities are utilized. Oil & Gas : India has become a refining hub for the world. Agreed that India meets 75% of the requirements from imports. But the issue here is to look from other angle. In the last 10-15 years we have sent up refineries for capacity of more than our requirements. Effectively what we are doing is importing crude, refining it and exporting value added products. Though we are importing 75% of oil requirements, as we are exporting value added products, the impact of cost of imports is reduced. New sources of energy : Urban West is generating so much waste that it has become a mainstream source of energy. Many cities have set up MSW power plants. If left to rot in landfills and dumps, the waste produces methane gas which is 20 times more dangerous than Co2 in green house effect. So by burning the waste, they produce Co2 but reduce the risk of methane and in the process produce power!! China is growing so fast in MSW utilization its incredible. India is taking baby steps. Just imagine 1,000 indians towns/cities with half million population having atleast one 5MW power plant each. that is 5,000 MW power and saves 20 million tons of coal. Thats not only 20 mil tons coal but infrastructure required to move that much coal from pits to plant including ports, railways logistics etc and power distribution from plants to end users. As the small power plants come up in towns, local production caters to local needs. Another new technology is Pyrolysis (its not new but new in India) This technology not only produces power from municipal waste but also produce oil which we are importing now. I see India catching up with China in all the above in another 10-20 years. Just my two paisa :)

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