Where energy meets environment

The energy system has a strategic role to play in the economy

Reasonable access to vital resources in general and energy resources in particular reinforces growth and development of an economy. Energy fosters many essential services. The wide ranging system of energy connects resources, transmutes them to movers of energy that aids capital and machinery to provide essential goods and services. In order to provide services to meet the needs of present generations without compromising the needs of future generations, the scheme of energy itself needs to be all inclusive and sustainable. There is a bi-way granger causality between the system of energy and the environment. The system of energy plays a vital role in bringing positive changes in the environment. The innovations and technological breakthroughs made the system of energy efficient and stronger, thereby making economics of energy relevant. Both energy and environment are inter-linked. This inter-relationship between energy and environment is very crucial because it leads a path towards sustainability. The system of energy has a great link and interface with the economy, society and the environment.

Consequently, in order to arrive at sustainable development, it is very important to understand the interactions among the economy, environment and the society. The impact of such interactions should therefore essentially be achieved sustainably. The energy economists and policy makers therefore, are apprehensive of empowering suitable, reasonable, economical and rational provision of resources. Furthermore, they are concerned with safeguarding the energy-system and interactions of such system with other broader systems so that present as well as future generations can avail their benefits.

Energy and sustainability debate has been an important contemporary debate.  Energy movers are causes, not an end in itself because the end being welfare of the society and the services that these energy movers help to offer. The modern economists in general and energy economists in particular stress the need for strategies designed to meet the needs of the environment directly. In energy discourse whether on global level or domestic level some call  it as a means while others call it an end in itself. It is wrong to posit energy as an end in itself. To wish a high sustained growth level is not wrong. To see dreams of sustainability is not bad but to dream only of sustainability is off course bad. 

The graph of energy services is monotonically increasing ranging from a set of services in the form of heat and power in industry, culinary and preservation in a household, information and communications technology in business. There is complementarity between energy and development. That is to say that energy and development complement each other. Without energy services, development of the economy is not possible and without development acceleration of energy services is not possible.  But, this doesn’t mean that energy services should be out-of-the-way to the operator. They should be reasonably priced and meet the actual needs and demands of the society. A sine-qua-non for development that is sustainable is within ones means, satisfactory and judicious right to use energy services to the economy.

‘‘Technology includes all tools, machines, utensils, weapons, instruments, housing, clothing, communicating and transporting devices and the skills by which we produce and use them.’’(Bain, 1937). Stiegler (1998) frameworks technology in two ways: as "the hunt for life by ways other than life," and as "systematized inorganic substance." Technology can be seen as an activity that changes culture (Albert, 2006). And the ‘energy-system’ encompasses series of processes, technologies, machines and practices that transforms resources to carriers of energy to a service. In the ‘energy-system’ the main energy resources are coal, wind, crude oil and others while as the secondary energy resources are the services in the form of heating, lighting, telecommunication, IT etc.

The interface between heat and mechanical energy of work is very inefficient. While maintaining the relationship between heat and temperature with energy and work we waste lot of energy. In order to reduce operational costs we must be watchful of effective intricacy along with all possible risks associated with production.   Advanced skills, knowledge and sound technology calls for experts acquainted with smart models, distinctive and multifaceted methods necessary to create a rational and effective energy-saving models, schemes and strategies. In several cases, it may be economically effectual to waste energy. The classic example is when the additional cost of getting more efficient technology overshadows the returns gained from reduced energy consumptions. 

Due to bad political economy in India a large amount of the energy in the system gets wasted which would otherwise be used economically. The energy system is an aggregation of subsystems who are deep-rooted and collaborating so that it is able to provide a comprehensive functionality. There is a competition between energy carriers at various levels. Bad political economy governs our fossil fuel markets and power markets which hampers development and investment in substitutes. Finite and scarce resources are unsustainable if they don’t meet the required energy services in the future, or if they meet the energy services of the present but compromising the needs of the future generations.   


The energy system has a strategic role to play in the economy. The development of strategic economic sectors, such as petrochemicals or high-tech productivity, chemical, nuclear generation or renewable can have significant spillover effects and economic derivatives and byproducts. The energy experts and policy makers should emphasize upon a wide-ranging standpoint that probes what macroeconomic policy can achieve in the areas of distribution of income, output and employment keeping in view the sustainability criteria. A “sustainable eco-friendly model” is needed that will understand the interaction of energy with environment so as to reply socially and ecologically relevant questions.  


(The author is Research Scholar, Department of Economics, Central University of Kashmir, Academic Counsellor, IGNOU STUDY CENTRE 1209,S.P. College, Srinagar)