How much energy we need for ensuring a decent standard of living for everyone is one of the basic questions at the heart of energy planning, yet it is one that is rarely addressed in any particularly meaningful manner. Many projections estimate energy demands based on energy requirement for GDP growth. Yet, GDP growth does not necessarily result in provision of basic needs of everyone. Some energy demand projections have therefore tried to estimate energy needed for specific developmental goals, or for indices that work as proxies for such developmental objectives. A set of such developmental goals can form the normative framework that defines a decent standard of living.

This paper reviews various methods of energy demand estimations, looking particularly at some bottom up, disaggregated approaches, and discusses their implications. Apart from providing better estimates of the quantity of energy needed, the power of such approaches lies in making a direct link between energy and its end-use and end-user, thus promoting equity, and providing a framework of better monitoring of how energy is used.  The paper explores these aspects and also discusses implications of energy demand estimates for sustainability.

An article based on this report appeared in Economic & Political Weekly on 11th November 2017