Global warming is causing a rapid rise in temperature in certain high-altitude zones, which include the Indian Himalayan region (IHR). Many glaciers in Nepal, India and China are receding at an alarming rate. Glacial melt will affect freshwater flows and have an adverse impact on biodiversity as well as human settlements and their livelihoods. Over a long term, these trends may also threaten regional food security. In conformity with the rising trends observed in global surface temperatures (0.85±0.18°C) since 1901 (IPCC 2014), the annual mean temperature in India for the period 1901–2017 has also shown a significant increasing trend of 0.66°C per 100 years. The rate of rise in the annual mean temperature is higher since the 1980s, mainly due to a sharp increase in the minimum temperatures. For the period 1981–2017, the mean, maximum and minimum temperatures increased by around 0.2°C per decade, which is higher than the trends for the period 1901–2017. Unless the current emissions are radically curbed, it is possible that the future average temperatures could rise even more, as compared to the current estimates. Ice ecosystems are particularly fragile and could suffer an imbalance by such shifts in temperatures.
The IHR covers an area of about 5 lakh km2 (16.2 per cent of the country’s total geographical area) and forms the northern boundary of India. The IHR shows a small and dispersed human population as compared to the national average due to its physiographic condition and limited infrastructural development. However, the growth rate is much higher than the national average.
In 2010, India made a voluntary pledge to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 20–25 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020 (excluding emissions from agriculture). In 2015, India submitted its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement, where India pushed up its target of reducing emissions intensity of its GDP by 33–35 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030. The emissions reduction through efficient space heating technologies and clean and renewable energy in the IHR can contribute significantly to the NDCs.
The present study of sustainable space heating solutions in the IHR has been carried out keeping in mind that these solutions will provide the required thermal comfort in built environment, meet the demand for space heating, while reducing CO2 emissions, in sync with India’s climate action plan.
This study focuses on the current and projected space heating energy consumption and emissions in residential and commercial/institutional buildings, and discusses potential for innovations in space heating technologies and solutions for bringing down the emissions. The study also identifies near- and long-term opportunities for space heating technologies and barriers for deployment apart from scale-up of technologies and the role of stakeholders such as NGOs, innovators, investors, end users and policymakers.